Colombia to open embassy in Ramallah after cutting ties with Israel

Foreign minister says he believes efforts to have more countries recognize a Palestinian state will gather steam

Colombian President Gustavo Petro delivers a speech during the opening of Colombia's regional elections, in Bogota on October 29, 2023. (Daniel Munoz/AFP)
Colombian President Gustavo Petro delivers a speech during the opening of Colombia's regional elections, in Bogota on October 29, 2023. (Daniel Munoz/AFP)

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has ordered the opening of an embassy in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Foreign Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo told journalists on Wednesday.

“President Petro has given the order that we open the Colombian embassy in Ramallah, the representation of Colombia in Ramallah, that is the next step we are going to take,” Murillo said.

At the beginning of this month, Petro, who had already recalled the Colombian ambassador from Tel Aviv, said he would break diplomatic relations with Israel over its prosecution of the war against Hamas in Gaza. The embassy was closed on May 3.

Ramallah serves as the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority, led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. In addition to governing parts of the West Bank, the PA is at the center of ongoing debate about who could govern Gaza in place of Hamas, the terror group Israel seeks to topple there in response to its shock attack on October 7.

Murillo added he believes more countries will soon begin backing the recognition of a Palestinian state before the United Nations, efforts Colombia has already supported.

On May 10, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a Palestinian bid to become a full UN member by recognizing it as qualified to join and recommended the UN Security Council “reconsider the matter favorably.”

File – Palestinian Authority Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, at the UN headquarters in New York on March 25, 2024. (ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

Petro has heavily criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has requested to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Petro of being “antisemitic and full of hate” following Colombia’s decision to cut ties with the Middle Eastern country, saying the move was a reward for Hamas.

The order came the same week that a trio of European nations— Norway, Ireland, and Spain— announced that they would recognize a State of Palestine, a move that drew ire from the Israeli government, with Netanyahu similarly calling such recognition a “reward for terror.”

Colombia was not the first Latin American country to cut ties with Israel since war broke out with Hamas. Bolivia did so at the end of October last year while several other countries in Latin America, including Chile and Honduras, have recalled their ambassadors.

War erupted on October 7 when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst into Israel by land, air, and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 252 hostages.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 35,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The toll, which cannot be verified, includes some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Two hundred and eighty-six IDF soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

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