Colombia Breaks Diplomatic Ties with Israel Over War in Gaza

Colombia's president Gustavo Petro called the situation in Gaza a "genocide" and shared that countries can't be passive

Colombia breaks ties Israel

Colombian President Gustavo Petro waves Colombian and M-19 flags as he addresses people at the International Workers' Day march in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. M-19 refers to the 1970s - 1980s urban guerrilla movement that is now a political movement. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

This week marks seven months since the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) invaded Palestine in response to the October 7 attack by the militant group Hamas, which left 1,400 people dead in Southern Israel. Since then, the Israeli military has killed over 34,000 Palestinians and injured at least 78,000 as a result of airstrikes, bombs, blockades of aid, and sniper attacks, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza. While Latina entertainers like Melissa Barrera have been punished for their pro-Palestine views, several Latin American countries have stood in support of Palestine including Bolivia, which was the first LATAM country to join South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. Most recently, Colombia’s president Gustavo Petro announced that the country would break diplomatic relations with Israel over the genocide in Palestine effective immediately. The move came after months of tense relations, including Petro comparing the Israeli government to Nazis, Israel halting security exports, and Colombia recalling its Israeli ambassador. While many in the country support Petro’s decision, there is no word yet on how this will affect its decades-long arms contracts or trade agreements with Israel, ABC News reported.

“Here in front of you, the government of change, of the president of the republic announces that tomorrow we will break diplomatic relations with the state of Israel…for having a government, for having a president who is genocidal,” Petro announced during an International Workers’ Day march in Bogotá. “If Palestine dies, humanity dies, and we are not going to let it die.” He added that countries cannot be passive in the face of what’s happening in Gaza.

Colombia and Israel first established diplomatic relations in 1957 and have since signed agreements regarding education and trade to benefit both countries. By 2020, the two countries had signed a mutually beneficial free trade agreement, which saw Israel purchasing 1 percent of Colombia’s total exports including coal, coffee, and flowers with Colombia importing electrical equipment, plastics, and fertilizers. However, the past few months have seen that relationship deteriorating, with Petro suspending arms purchases from Israel back in February. Colombia’s imports from Israel include electrical equipment, plastics and fertilizers. No official announcement has addressed how the feud will affect the trade agreement.

However, Petro’s new announcement where he described the situation in Gaza as a “genocide,” which was part of a march to promote his proposed health care, pension, and labor reforms, has changed things. This could affect Colombia’s Israeli military contracts, which it depends on for warplanes, fighter jets, rifles, machine guns, missile systems, fleets, and cybersecurity technology. These weapons, which have been used on guerrilla fighters, rebel groups, and drug cartels, present the unique problem of requiring maintenance that can only be handled by Israeli manufacturers. For now, Colombian Defense Minister Iván Velásquez has confirmed that while existing contracts with Israel will continue to be fulfilled, no new contracts will be signed to allow for a replacement supplier to be found.

“History will remember that Gustavo Petro decided to side with the most despicable monsters known to humanity who burned babies, murdered children, raped women and kidnapped innocent civilians,” said Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz in a post on X. “Relations between Israel and Colombia always were warm and no antisemitic and hate-filled president will succeed in changing that. The state of Israel will continue to defend its citizens without worry and without fear.”

Colombia is the third Latin American nation to end diplomatic relations with Israel since the Israel-Hamas war began, Foreign Policy reported. Petro is the country’s first leftist president and joins Bolivia—which also has a left-wing government—which also broke ties with Israel in October. By mid-November, Belize also suspended diplomatic ties.

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