| 9 December 2023, Saturday |

Tensions between Colombia, Israel soar after Petro threatens to suspend relations

Colombian President Gustavo Petro threatened Sunday to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel in response to its decision to halt military sales to his country due to his stance on the Israeli military’s attacks on Gaza.

“If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we will suspend them. We do not support genocides. The president of Colombia will not be insulted,” Petro said on X.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said earlier that “by instruction of Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, the Deputy Director General for Latin America at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Jonathan Peled, summoned the Colombian Ambassador to Israel, Margarita Manjarrez, for a reprimanding conversation following statements made by Colombian President Gustavo Petro.”

Haiat condemned Petro’s statements, which were seen as “supportive of Hamas atrocities,” fostering anti-Semitism and threatening the peace of the Jewish community in Colombia.

Petro also called on Latin America to demonstrate genuine solidarity with Colombia in the wake of Israel’s “insult” against him.

“From the people of Israel, I demand help in…achieving peace in Palestine and the world,” he said. “Colombia, as Bolivar and Narino taught us, is an independent, sovereign and just people.”

Following the post, Petro launched a new tirade against Israel’s decision and highlighted through an image that in Colombia, “genocides are not supported.”

He announced that Colombia would send humanitarian aid to Gaza with the hope of Egyptian support and urged the UN to convene an extraordinary session of the General Assembly.

The moves by Israel come after Petro has refused to condemn attacks by the Palestinian Hamas group and drew comparisons between the situation in Gaza and the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, which has generated a barrage of criticism from various political circles in Colombia, who have questioned his foreign policy stances.

Hours later, Petro welcomed a statement by his US counterpart Joe Biden, who warned that Israel occupying Gaza “would be a mistake.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat