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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Colombia to sever ties with Israel over Hamas war

By Genevieve Glatsky

Colombia will sever diplomatic ties with Israel over its prosecution of the war in the Gaza Strip, President Gustavo Petro announced in Bogotá earlier this week, describing the Israeli government as “genocidal.”

His announcement came in a speech in Colombia’s capital city in front of cheering crowds that had gathered for International Workers’ Day.

“The times of genocide, of the extermination of an entire people cannot come before our eyes, before our passivity,” Petro said. “If Palestine dies, humanity dies.”

Colombia is the second South American nation to break off relations with Israel after Bolivia, which cut ties in November over its strikes in Gaza. On the day that Bolivia made its announcement, Colombia and Chile both said that they were recalling their ambassadors to Israel, and Honduras followed suit within days. Belize also cut diplomatic ties with Israel that month.

The Israeli government denounced Petro’s move Wednesday.

“History will remember that Gustavo Petro chose to stand at the side of the most abominable monsters known to man, who burned babies, killed children, raped woman and abducted innocent civilians,” Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, wrote on social media platform X. “Israel and Colombia always enjoyed warm ties. Even an antisemitic and hateful president will not change that.’’

Petro, Colombia’s first leftist leader and a critic of U.S. drug policy toward his country, had threatened to cut ties with Israel in March if it did not comply with a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. And he called on other countries to do the same. In response to that threat, Katz wrote on X that Petro’s “support for Hamas murderers” who carried out massacres and committed sex crimes against Israelis was shameful.

“Israel will continue to protect its citizens and will not yield to any pressure or threats,” he added.

Petro suspended Colombia’s purchase of Israeli weapons in February after Israeli forces opened fire while a crowd was gathered near a convoy of trucks carrying desperately needed aid to Gaza City, part of a chaotic scene in which scores of people were killed and injured, according to Gaza health officials and the Israeli military.

“Asking for food, more than 100 Palestinians were killed by Netanyahu,” Petro wrote on X at the time, comparing the events to the Holocaust “even if the world powers do not like to acknowledge it.”

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