Colombia breaks diplomatic relations with Israel over Gaza war

President Gustavo Petro cuts decades-long ties over 'genocide' in Gaza

Colombian President Gustavo Petro said his country is severing diplomatic ties with Israel. AFP
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Colombian President Gustavo Petro said his government will break diplomatic relations with Israel from Thursday in the latest escalation of tensions between the countries over the Israel-Hamas war.

Mr Petro again described Israel’s siege of Gaza as “genocide”.

He previously suspended weapons purchases from Israel and compared its actions in Gaza to those of Nazi Germany.

“Diplomatic relations with the state of Israel will be broken … for having a genocidal president,” Mr Petro said during an International Workers’ Day march in Colombia’s capital on Wednesday.

“If Palestine dies, humanity dies, and we are not going to let it die.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz quickly criticised Mr Petro’s comments on the platform X.

“History will remember that Gustavo Petro decided to side with the most despicable monsters known to mankind who burnt babies, murdered children, raped women and kidnapped innocent civilians,” Mr Katz said.

Weeks after the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people, Mr Petro recalled Colombia’s ambassador to Israel as he criticised its response that has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians, local health authorities say.

Historically, Colombia had been one of Israel’s closest partners in Latin America. But relations between the two nations have cooled since Mr Petro was elected as the country's first leftist president in 2022.

Colombia uses Israeli-built warplanes and machineguns to fight drug cartels and rebel groups, and both countries signed a free-trade agreement in 2020.

“Relations between Israel and Colombia always were warm, and no anti-Semitic and hate-filled president will succeed in changing that,” Mr Katz wrote Tuesday.

“The state of Israel will continue to defend its citizens without worry and without fear.”

Updated: May 02, 2024, 9:51 PM