Colombia expels Israeli ambassador over Palestine dispute
By Muhammad JuniadPublished On 17 Oct 2023
Bogota: Colombia has requested the Israeli ambassador to leave the country amid a heated diplomatic dispute surrounding the issue of Palestine.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro drew international attention when he compared Israeli actions in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of Jews, triggering a war of words on social media.
In a strongly-worded post on social media, President Petro accused Israeli Defense Minister Yves Gallant of using language about the people of Gaza that he likened to what "the Nazis used about the Jews."
This incendiary statement came after a recent escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where Hamas targeted Israeli bases and settlements, resulting in numerous casualties, including more than 1,400 Israelis and numerous children.
On the Palestinian side, over 2,500 Palestinians, including 1,000 children, lost their lives during the nine days of Israeli aggression on Gaza.
President Petro, Colombia's first left-wing president, further asserted that "democratic peoples cannot allow Nazism to re-establish itself in international politics" and made it clear that his country does not support what he referred to as "genocide."
He declared that if Colombia wished to suspend foreign relations with Israel, they would do so.
In response to President Petro's statements, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Colombian Ambassador Margarita Manjeres on Sunday and announced the decision to halt Israeli security exports.
It's important to note that Colombia has been a longstanding friend of Israel in Latin America for the past two decades, maintaining diplomatic relations with both Israel and Palestine.
However, a war of words erupted on social media between Colombian President Petro and Israeli Ambassador Gali Dagan a week ago when the Colombian president refused to condemn the attacks by Hamas.
President Petro's response to Ambassador Dagan's request to address the 'terrorist attack' was unequivocal: "Terrorism is killing innocent children, whether it is in Colombia or in Palestine." He further criticized Israel for what he described as turning Gaza into a "detention center."
Amid this escalating tension, Colombian Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva called on the Israeli ambassador to apologize and depart the country.