Colombia ‘Palestinian State Recognition’ Dismays Israel

August 9, 2018

2 min read

The Israeli embassy in Bogotá, Colombia criticised the government’s decision to grant formal recognition to a Palestinian state and said the move contradicted the good relations between the two countries. The embassy stressed that as a friendly government, Jerusalem would have expected to have been forewarned of a dramatic policy shift.

“This decision is in complete contradiction to the good relations between Israel and Colombia, and the close ties between the prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] and the new president of Colombia, Iván Duque… When we have a good relationship, we expect to be warned about decisions like this or changes in policy, so we were very surprised,” the embassy wrote in a statement.

The government of outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos decided to recognize “Palestine” on August 3. But the policy shift was only announced on August 8, after the inauguration of the new government. The foreign minister of the new government announced that the measure would be reconsidered.

Despite the back-and-forth policy, a local Spanish-language commentator on Latin American and Israeli affairs said the decision would have little impact, either on bilateral ties or on the international level.

“I don’t believe this decision will not have any implications on relations with Israel,” said Dr. Gustavo D. Perednik, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina and the author of 15 books on Israel, Latin America and Jewish philosophy. “The new government is very friendly with Israel so it doesn’t really matter what the outgoing president said. Colombia will even probably move their embassy to Jerusalem, if Duque is asked to by President Trump.”

On a regional level, too, Perednik said the policy is not likely to signify a wide-spread policy shift. He noted that Bogotá was one of the last Latin American countries to recognise a Palestinian state, but added that Netanyahu’s trip to South and Central America last year was both the result of improving diplomatic and economic ties in recent years and contributed to continued expansion.

Netanyahu cancelled a scheduled trip to Colombia at the last minute last week, saying he wanted to oversee developments in the south in real time, particularly the visit of Saleh al-Arouri, the founding commander of Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades armed wing who is believed to be the organization’s commander in Judea and Samaria. The premier had been scheduled to attend the inauguration of incoming President Iván Duque and to hold meetings with several Latin American leaders.

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