Bolivia’s interim government announces renewal of diplomatic ties with Israel
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Bolivia’s interim government announces renewal of diplomatic ties with Israel

Transitional president rewrites foreign policy following Evo Morales’s ouster; Israeli FM praises shift after 11-year hiatus

Bolivia's Foreign Minister Karen Longaric attends a press conference introducing the newly appointed ambassador to the United States, at the Foreign Ministry in La Paz, Bolivia, November 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Bolivia's Foreign Minister Karen Longaric attends a press conference introducing the newly appointed ambassador to the United States, at the Foreign Ministry in La Paz, Bolivia, November 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Bolivia is renewing diplomatic ties with Israel, the foreign minister of the Latin American country’s transitional government, Karen Longaric, announced in a briefing with reporters Thursday.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised the announcement, saying it would “contribute to Israel’s foreign relations and to its international status.”

Katz said the Foreign Ministry had been working to renew diplomatic relations for a long time, including via Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Brazil’s foreign minister.

But the move was made possible following the ouster of former Bolivian president Evo Morales, “who was hostile to Israel,” Katz said, and the emergence of a government sympathetic to the Jewish state.

Longaric took office on November 14, after the departure of Morales, who was a bitter critic of Israeli policies.

Bolivia had cut diplomatic ties with Israel in January 2009 after Operation Cast Lead, a war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza. At the time, he called Israel’s treatment of Palestinians “a genocide.”

Morales was one of Israel’s fiercest critics during the Gaza war in 2014, when Bolivia declared Israel a “terrorist state.” The country also canceled a 30-year-old agreement enabling Israelis to visit Bolivia without visas.

US legislators have asked Bolivian President Evo Morales to intervene in a case that has resulted in corruption charges against his own officials. (Photo credit: CC BY/Sebastian Baryli via Flickr.com)
Bolivian President Evo Morales. (Photo credit: CC BY/Sebastian Baryli via Flickr.com)

Morales resigned on November 10 and fled to Mexico where he was granted political asylum after disputed October 20 elections ignited street protests and his police and military turned against him.

Morales, who had been seeking a fourth term, claimed victory, but opposition groups said the results were rigged.

The new Bolivian government has appeared eager to reset the country’s foreign policy after the departure of Morales. On Tuesday, La Paz appointed its first ambassador to the United States in 11 years.

Under Morales, Bolivia’s president for nearly 14 years, the country’s ties with the United States were tense. Relations took a turn for the worse under former US leader George W. Bush, with the expulsion of ambassadors from both countries in late 2008.

Since declaring herself interim president, an unknown right-wing senator Jeanine Anez, who has been recognized by the United States, has wasted no time rewriting Bolivia’s foreign policy.

Bolivia’s interim President Jeanine Anez at the presidential palace, in La Paz, Bolivia, Monday, Nov. 25, 2019 (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

She broke ties with socialist Cuba and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.

Anez’s first foreign policy decision was to recognize Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s president, joining a group of around 50 nations.

Longaric announced Venezuelan diplomats would be sent home for “violating diplomatic norms.”

Bolivia also fired all its ambassadors except those to Peru and the Vatican.

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