Colombia cuts ties with Israel over 'genocidal' Gaza campaign

AFP , Wednesday 1 May 2024

Colombian President Gustavo Petro said Wednesday his country will sever diplomatic ties with Israel, whose leader he described as "genocidal" over its war in Gaza.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro waves to supporters during a May Day (Labor Day) rally in Bogota o
Colombian President Gustavo Petro waves to supporters during a May Day (Labor Day) rally in Bogota on May 1, 2024. AFP


"Tomorrow (Thursday) diplomatic relations with the state of Israel will be severed... for having a genocidal president," Petro, a harsh critic of the war against the Gaza Strip, told a May Day rally in Bogota, referring to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Petro has taken a critical stance on the Gaza assault that followed on October 7.

In October, just days after the start of the war, Israel said it was "halting security exports" to Colombia after Petro accused Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of using language about the people of Gaza similar to what the "Nazis said of the Jews."

Israel accused Petro of "expressing support for the atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists, fueling anti-Semitism," and summoned Colombia's ambassador.

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

Bogota subsequently demanded Israel's envoy leave the South American country.

'Recalls the Holocaust'

Petro, Colombia's first leftist president, has also asserted that "democratic peoples cannot allow Nazism to reestablish itself in international politics."

In February, he suspended Israeli weapons purchases after dozens of people died in a scramble for food aid in the war-torn Palestinian territory -- an event he said was "called genocide and recalls the Holocaust."

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 34,568 and wounded more than 77,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

Colombia's armed forces, engaged in a decades-long conflict with leftist guerrillas, rightwing paramilitaries and drug cartels, use Israeli-made weapons and aircraft.

The country has a history of strong diplomatic and military relations with Israel and the United States.

Petro had previously come out in support of Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who also invoked the ire of Israel for saying its Gaza campaign "isn't a war, it's a genocide."

Colombia and Brazil supported South Africa's complaint against Israel to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, alleging the Gaza assault amounted to a breach of the Genocide Convention.

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