Israeli-Colombian relations on the rocks amid spat over Gaza

"If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we suspend them. We do not support genocides," Petro posted Sunday on X.

Published: October 16, 2023 6:34pm

A row between Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Israeli Ambassador Gali Dagan is threatening to upend relations between the two countries as Bogotá maintains its criticism of Israeli strikes on Gaza.

"If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we suspend them. We do not support genocides," Petro posted Sunday on X. Petro previously accused the Israeli forces of terrorism for killing Palestinian civilians and said that country had made Gaza into a "concentration camp," according to the Associated Press. Israel has informed Colombia it will suspend defense cooperation efforts.

The Israel Defense Forces have maintained a consistent barrage of the densely-populated coastal strip in retaliation for an Oct. 7 terrorist attack that saw Hamas storm Israeli border towns, take hostages, and kill civilians. The week-long barrage has prompted widespread international fears of mass civilian casualties. The Colombian president, for his part, attracted intense criticism from Israeli Ambassador Gali Dagan over his remarks.

Colombian Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva on Monday urged the Israeli ambassador to "leave" the country and apologize for his public criticism of Petro, but also stated that Dagan had not been expelled from the country and that he merely sought to clarify that respect for Petro is "mandatory" for harmonious relations between Colombia and other countries.

Leyva's urgings followed a provocative retort Dagan made to a post from Petro suggesting that Hamas was the product of the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad. Dagan responded by cheekily confirming Petro's assertion and saying that the Mossad had also created a major insurgent group in Colombia, which he said was still run by Jews with large noses, appearing to rub a negative Jewish stereotype in Petro's face.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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