Colombia demands Israel envoy leave amid spat over war with Hamas

AFP , Monday 16 Oct 2023

Colombia on Monday demanded that Israel's ambassador leave the South American country amid a worsening spat over President Gustavo Petro's remarks on the war with Hamas.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro delivers a speech during the installation of the ordinary sessions of the Congress in Bogota on July 20, 2023. AFP


Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva said the envoy, Gali Dagan, should "at a minimum, apologize and leave" after he criticized Petro's comparison of Israeli attacks on Gaza with the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

Leyva lashed out on social media at the "rudeness" of Israel's response to Petro, adding: "Shame."

Israel, one of the main providers of arms to Colombia's military, on Sunday said it was "halting security exports" to the South American country as the diplomatic feud escalated.

Petro, in one post on X, formerly Twitter, accused Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of using language about the people of Gaza similar to what the "Nazis said of the Jews."

He asserted that "democratic peoples cannot allow Nazism to reestablish itself in international politics."

On Sunday, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said Colombia's ambassador to Israel, Margarita Manjarrez, had been summoned over Petro's "hostile and anti-Semitic statements."

The president's statements were received with "astonishment," said the spokesman, and accused Petro of "expressing support for the atrocities committed by Hamas militants, fuelling anti-Semitism, affecting the representatives of the State of Israel and threatening the peace of the Jewish community in Colombia."

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