Guatemala is following in Donald Trump's footsteps by deciding to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The central American country announced on Sunday (4 March) that the move will take place in May, just two days after the US relocates its embassy to Jerusalem.

"As a sovereign decision, we recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's conference in Washington DC.

"In May of this year, we will celebrate Israel's 70th anniversary, and under my instructions, two days after the United States moves its embassy, Guatemala will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem," he said.

"I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way. His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right," Morales added.

His comments were greeted with resounding applause. Guatemala is among a mere handful of countries to openly support Trump's controversial embassy move and vote against a UN resolution condemning the relocation.

Trump's threat to cut off all financial assistance to countries that voted against the resolution may have influenced the Guatemalan government which relies heavily on US aid.

The decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem overturned seven decades of US foreign policy that has resisted recognising the holy city as Israel's capital before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been resolved.

The US president's announcement in December was met with worldwide dismay and sparked violence in the Gaza strip and across the West Bank,

Criticism was echoed around the world, with many world leaders and Pope Francis expressing concern.

The pope said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments, describing Jerusalem as a city with a status quo that everyone respects.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the move would "play into the hands of terror groups" and said Turkey could respond by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.