Colombia severs ties with Israel over its ‘genocidal war’

DECEMBER 2: Gustavo Petro Urrego, President of the Republic of Colombia. (Photo by COP28 / Mahmoud Khaled)

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has announced that his country will sever diplomatic relations with Israel due to its “genocidal” war in the besieged Gaza Strip.

He made the announcement yesterday to a crowd of boisterous supporters, prompting widespread cheers amid a sea of waving Colombian flags in Bogota’s Plaza de Bolivar.

“Here before you, the government of change, the president of the Republic, informs you that tomorrow diplomatic relations will be broken with the state of Israel for having a genocidal president. Long live the government of change.”

Colombia, which previously suspended weapons sales to Israel, has also requested to join the International Court of Justice case against Israel alongside South Africa, which brought it to the UN’s top court in the wake of Israel’s war on Gaza.

A left-wing leader who came to power in 2022, Petro is considered part of a progressive wave known as the “pink tide” in Latin America. He has been one of the region’s most vocal critics of Israel since the start of the Gaza war.

That said, he was among 18 national leaders that signed on to a U.S.-led statement demanding the release of the roughly 130 hostages that remain in captivity in Gaza following a Hamas-led October 7 cross-border attack on Israel that killed around 1,200 Israelis.

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The statement demanded the release of the remaining hostages, saying that doing so would lead to a “credible end of hostilities.”

Meanwhile, Hamas on Thursday welcomed the decision by Colombia to cut ties with Israel.

In a statement, Hamas considered Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s position “a victory for the sacrifices of our people and their just cause.”

The group urged countries in Latin America and elsewhere to take similar stances against Israel, which said it “disregards all international laws and norms.”

Israel has for over half a year waged a war on Gaza that has resulted in widespread death and destruction in the coastal enclave.

Nearly 34,600 Palestinians have since been killed and over 77,000 injured. The vast majority of the dead have been women and children.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

And it is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January said it is “plausible” that Israel’s actions amount to genocide, and ordered Tel Aviv to ensure its forces do not commit such acts, and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

On the other hand, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called Petro “antisemitic and full of hatred.”

“History will remember that Gustavo Petro decided to stand alongside the most vile monsters that history has ever known, who burned babies, murdered children, raped women and kidnapped innocent civilians,” Katz wrote on X.

“The relations between Colombia and Israel were always warm,” Katz continued, “and no antisemitic president full of hatred will change that.”

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