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Colombian president announces breaking of ties with Israel, calls Netanyahu ‘genocidal’

Petro has consistently taken an anti-Israel stance since his election in 2022

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro speaks in Bogota, Colombia May 1, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez)

Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced that his country would sever ties with Israel starting Thursday because of the ongoing war in Gaza.

Petro announced the decision, saying the action was necessary due to Israel “having a government, having a genocidal president [prime minister].” 

Speaking to crowds at the May Day marches in Bolívar Plaza in the capital city, Bogota, Petro said: "Here in front of you, the government of change, of the president of the republic announces that tomorrow we will break diplomatic relations with the state of Israel ... for having a government, for having a president who is genocidal.”

Colombia's decision marks one of the most drastic measures taken by a Latin American country since the beginning of the Gaza War.

While the country of Bolivia also announced it would sever diplomatic ties with Israel following the outbreak of the war, that action was part of a trend of deterioration in relations between the two countries.

Mexico and Chile have denounced Israeli actions against the Palestinians in the International Criminal Court (ICC), while Honduras and Chile recalled their ambassadors from Israel. 

Petro, however, who has consistently demonstrated an anti-Israel stance since his election in 2022, decided to take stronger action against Israel. In March, he announced his intention to sever ties with Israel if it did not agree to an immediate ceasefire to the war in Gaza, as called for by the UN Security Council. In February, Petro announced that Colombia would halt its purchase of weapons from Israel. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz slammed the move, saying Petro was siding with “despicable monsters.” 

“The president of Colombia has promised to give a reward to the Nazi-Hamas murderers, and here it is today,” Katz said. “History will remember that Gustavo Petro decided to side with the most despicable monsters known to mankind who burned babies, murdered children, raped women and kidnapped innocent civilians.” 

Katz pointed to a history of warm relations between Israel and Colombia, saying, “No hate-filled, antisemitic president can change that.”

While Petro’s decision was met with cheers from the crowd of supporters at his speech, his announcement was not well received by other leaders in Colombia. 

The mayor of Medellín, Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez posted on 𝕏 (formerly Twitter), that Petro “made a wrong decision to break relations with Israel.” 

“For more than 50 years Israel has been an ally and partner of Colombia, of great importance for our security and our economy,” Gutiérrez wrote. “Colombia cannot isolate itself from the international community that defends freedom. Colombia cannot be complicit in terrorism, a scourge that we have had to endure for decades.” 

Petro is a former member of the leftist M-19 (Movimiento 19 de Abril) urban guerrilla movement, which later became a political party in Colombia after its demilitarization in the 1990s. 

M-19 was responsible for the death of 13 Colombian politicians and was also involved in kidnappings and armed land seizures. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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