Colombia President Gustavo Petro Cuts Ties with Israel over War on Gaza

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has announced plans to cut diplomatic ties with Israel over its war in the Gaza Strip, which human rights advocates and other experts have warned could amount to genocide.

Speaking to a crowd marking International Workers’ Day in Bogota on Wednesday, Petro said countries cannot be passive in the face of the crisis unfolding in Gaza.

“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,” Petro said.

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.

In October, just days after the conflict began, Israel said it was “halting security exports” to Colombia after Petro accused Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant of using language similar to what the “Nazis said of the Jews”.

Gallant said the country was fighting “human animals” in Gaza, as he ordered a total siege of the territory following the deadly attacks on southern Israel on October 7.

A month later, Petro accused Israel of committing “genocide” in the besieged Palestinian enclave, drawing more ire from Israeli officials and pro-Israel advocacy groups.

The Colombian president’s comments on Wednesday come amid growing concerns about a possible Israeli ground offensive into the southern city of Rafah, which United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said would mark an “unbearable escalation”.

More than 34,500 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip to date, and the enclave faces a continued humanitarian crisis, with experts warning of famine.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli government about Colombia’s plans to cut diplomatic ties with the country.

Meanwhile, in early April, the Colombian government requested to join a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Israel of genocide.

“Colombia’s ultimate goal in this endeavor is to ensure the urgent and fullest possible protection for Palestinians in Gaza, in particular such vulnerable populations as women, children, persons with disabilities and the elderly,” the country said.

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Comfort Samuel

I work with TV360 Nigeria, as a broadcast journalist, producer and reporter. I'm so passionate on what I do.

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