Colombia’s Petro orders opening of embassy in West Bank’s Ramallah

Petro had recalled the Colombian ambassador from Tel Aviv, where the embassy was closed on May 3.

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro speaks in Bogota
Colombia's President Gustavo Petro speaks in Bogota [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

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

“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 on Wednesday.

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.

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 war on Gaza. The embassy was closed on May 3.

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 war.

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

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”.

In April, Petro also requested to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice.

“Colombia’s ultimate goal in this endeavour 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 government said.

Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, serves as the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority.

Colombia, Bolivia and Chile have cut ties with Israel

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

Israeli attacks on Gaza since the start of the war have killed at least 35,647 people and 79,852 wounded others, with thousands more missing under the rubble and presumed dead. Israel launched its assault on the besieged territory after a Hamas-led attack in southern Israel killed about 1,140 people.

Colombia was not the first Latin American country to cut ties with Israel.

Bolivia broke relations with Israel at the end of October last year while several other countries in Latin America, including Chile and Honduras, have recalled their ambassadors.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies