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Colombia expels Israeli ambassador 

October 17, 2023 at 12:13 pm

Israel’s ambassador to Colombia Gali Dagan during an interview with AFP, in Bogota Colombia on October 16, 2023 [JUAN RESTREPO/AFP via Getty Images]

In a step that is expected to indicate a shift in the country’s policy toward Israel, Colombia has expelled Israeli Ambassador Gali Dagan. Colombian Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva called on Dagan to apologise after he criticised President Gustavo Petro’s comparison of Israeli attacks on Gaza with the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

“An important milestone in the history of world diplomacy will be the senseless arrogance of the Israeli ambassador to Colombia towards the President of the Republic Gustavo Petro,” said Leyva on X. “It’s a shame. At least ask for forgiveness and leave.”

He added that no reasonable person can applaud a “scorched earth policy” no matter who is responsible, including Israel. “It violates the dignity of the human being, and kills innocents and the doctrine of the comprehensive peace based on the duty of global justice and law.”

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The war of words on social media between Petro and Dagan arose after the Colombian president came out in support of the Palestinians and accused Israel of using scorched earth tactics in the Gaza Strip. Dagan responded by ridiculing Petro’s statement.

Yesterday, Petro threatened to sever relations with Israel in response to the genocidal crimes that the occupation state is committing against civilians in the Gaza Strip. “If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we suspend them. We do not support genocides. The President of Colombia is not insulted.”

He pointed out that Israelis had also “unleashed massacres and genocide in Colombia” by training the paramilitary forces of the AUC, described in 2003 as the “worst human rights violator in all of the Americas” by Al Jazeera.

“Someday the army and government of Israel will ask us for forgiveness for what their men did in our land,” said Petro. “They will cry for the murder of Gaza and the Colombian Auschwitz.”

The president called on Latin American countries to show real solidarity with Colombia.

Petro made his later comments after a spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lior Haiat, announced that the occupation state is halting security exports to Colombia as a punitive measure the president’s support for the Palestinians in Gaza.

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“Israel condemns the president’s statements that reflect support for the atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists, reviving anti-Semitism, affecting representatives of the State of Israel and threatening the peace of the Jewish community in Colombia,” claimed Haiat.

Earlier, Israel summoned the Ambassador of Colombia in Israel, Margarita Manjarrez, for “a reprimand following hostile and anti-Semitic [sic] statements of the President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, against the State of Israel, during the last week.” Haiat told Manjarrez that Petro’s statements were received in Israel with “astonishment”.

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