Gustavo Petro on May Day announcing diplomatic rupture with Israel

The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, announced this Wednesday (1st) that his country will break diplomatic relations with Israel, in a statement made in front of thousands of supporters in Bogotá, during an event celebrating International Labor Day.

Petro, who had previously harshly criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza, highlighted that the decision to break diplomatic relations represents a significant change in Colombian foreign policy. More than 34,500 Palestinians have been killed in the recent conflict.

“Here, before you, the president of the republic informs that tomorrow diplomatic relations with the State of Israel will be severed,” said Petro, highlighting the seriousness of the actions perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

The Colombian government, the first left-wing government in the country’s history, has consistently criticized Israel’s policies and actions in relation to Palestine. This rupture in diplomatic relations represents a 180-degree change in relation to previous administrations, which established Colombia as Israel’s main ally in the region.

Frictions between Israel and Colombia have intensified in recent months, with the Colombian government suspending arms purchases from Israel in response to the deaths of Palestinian civilians during the Israeli offensive in Gaza. On more than one occasion, Petro compared the Israeli government’s behavior to Nazism.

Since 2020, Colombia has had a Free Trade Agreement with Israel, establishing itself as Israel’s main ally in South America. The conjunction of interests created a strategic triangle with the USA and Israel. The partnership expanded to the “global war against terrorism”, in which Colombia declared left-wing guerrillas “terrorist organizations” and had Israeli military support to confront them. Between 2002 and 2006, according to official data, imports of military material from Israel to Colombia doubled. But cooperation also involved areas other than the military, which should suffer the consequences of the decision.

The decision to sever relations with Israel is a milestone in Colombian foreign policy and follows the example of Bolivia, which took a similar measure in repudiation of Israel’s aggressive military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The relationship between Brazil and Israel also faces tensions, with President Lula having compared Israeli military actions in Gaza to the Holocaust. The situation worsened when Israel’s Foreign Minister declared Lula “persona non grata” in the country.


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