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Blow to Israel as Colombia recognizes Palestine as sovereign state



Colombia recognizes Palestine as sovereign state. (Courtesy)

BOGOTA—A diplomatic row could be surfacing between the new Colombian government led by President Iván Duque and the Israeli, after the outgoing government recognized Palestine as a state  days before the end of its term.

President Ivan Duque took office on Tuesday and was informed of the decision only this week.

In a letter to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malk, on Wednesday, María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar the former Colombian foreign minister made public the announcement.

“I would like to inform you that in the name of the government of Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos has decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state in the name of Colombia,” the letter said.

The former Colombian government, in the letter, also noted that efforts to bring peace to the region should be doubled.

“We believe that direct negotiation is the best way to reach a lasting and fair solution to this conflict, that will allow both nations and their people to coexist peacefully. Just like the Palestinian people have a right to build an independent state, the people of Israel have a right to live in peace next to their neighbors.” added the letter.

The Israeli embassy in Bogota, Colombia in a statement released on its official Twitter page said it was both surprised and disappointed.

“We ask the Colombian government to reverse the decision made by the previous administration in its last days, which contravenes the close relations, extensive cooperation in vital areas and interests of both countries.”

Colombia has become the latest South American country to recognize the state of Palestine.

Colombia’s Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said the newly installed government would review the surprising declaration by outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos.

“Given possible omissions that could come to light about the way in which this decision was taken by the outgoing president, the government will cautiously examine its implications and will act according to international law,” Mr Holmes said in a statement.

Representatives from the Palestinian Authority and Israel were present in Colombia to mark Duque’s inauguration, as well as the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. Israel was represented by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hanegbi.

In a statement, the Palestinian representative to the UN said: “We thank the Colombian government for this decision and we are sure that it will contribute significantly to generating the necessary conditions in the search for peace in the Middle East.”

Palestine has been recognized as a sovereign state by the UN General Assembly, the International Criminal Court and at least 136 other countries.



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