- Bolivia became the first country to end its diplomatic ties with Israel over the war in Gaza.
NEW YORK (Agencies): Chile, Colombia and Jordan announced Wednesday that they are recalling their respective ambassadors to Israel for consultations over Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip. These decisions come one day after the Bolivian government announced it was severing diplomatic ties with Israel, making it the first country to take such a step since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,400 Israelis.
“With the unacceptable violations of international humanitarian law that Israel has incurred in the Gaza Strip, as the government of Chile, we have decided to call back to Santiago for consultations our ambassador in Israel, Jorge Carvajal,” Chilean President Gabriel Boric Font wrote in a post on X.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro similarly said, “I have decided to recall our ambassador to Israel for consultations. If Israel does not stop the massacre of the Palestinian people, we cannot be there.”
The leftist leaders of both Latin American countries have criticized Israel’s response to the Hamas attack several times in recent weeks, leading to a sharp deterioration in bilateral ties. On Oct. 8, Petro denounced Israel’s “neo-Nazi” tactics in the Gaza Strip, prompting criticism from Israel’s ambassador to Bogota.
Meanwhile, Jordan also said Wednesday it was recalling its ambassador to Israel. “The return of the ambassador will be linked to halting Israel’s war on Gaza and ending the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Israeli measures that deprive the Palestinians of their right to food, water, medicine, and their right to live … on their land,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a statement.
Safadi also told Israel’s Foreign Ministry that its top diplomat in Amman, who left the country amid security concerns shortly after Oct. 7, should not return either.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry has yet to react to Amman’s announcement, but it did respond to decisions made by the Latin American countries.
“Israel calls on Colombia and Chile to explicitly condemn the Hamas terrorist organization, which slaughtered and abducted babies, children, women and the elderly,” read a statement issued by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, adding that it “expects Colombia and Chile to support the right of a democratic country to protect its citizens, and to call for the immediate release of all the abductees, and not align themselves with Venezuela and Iran in support of Hamas terrorism.”
Israel is increasingly subject to international criticism over its deepening military operation in the Gaza Strip that has killed almost 8,800 Palestinians since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
Meanwhile, Bolivian President Luis Arce met on Tuesday in La Paz with Palestinian Ambassador Mahmoud Elalwani. In a post on X on Tuesday, Arce said, “Once again we call on the Security Council of the United Nations to prevent the genocide of the Palestinian people and find a definitive solution for Palestine to exercise its right to self-determination.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, called the Bolivian decision to sever diplomatic ties “a surrender to terrorism and to the Ayatollah’s regime in Iran.” It added, “By taking this step, the Bolivian government is aligning itself with the Hamas terrorist organization.” The ministry noted that “since the change of government in Bolivia [in November 2020], relations between the countries have been devoid of content.”
Former Ambassador Daniel Carmon, who served as Israel’s top diplomat in Argentina and is an expert on Israel’s relations with Latin America, notes that Bolivia severed ties with Israel once before in 2009 after a military operation in Gaza, only to renew ties in 2019. Relations were renewed after the resignation of then-Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales, who was considered close to Iran.
“The decision by La Paz seems strange, and I’m not sure what exactly they are hoping to achieve by such a move,” Carmon told Al-Monitor. “It could prove detrimental to Israeli tourism to the country. There might be some internal political interests involved, especially when you look at today’s international diplomacy, where severing of ties has become rare,” he said.
Leftist heads of government across Latin America have broadly condemned Israel’s current military operation in Gaza. Last week, Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, who has long championed the Palestinian cause, accused Israel of “genocide,” saying that the Israeli military “has killed nearly 2,000 children who have nothing to do with this war; they are victims of this war.”
Carmon stressed that Israel must follow up closely on deteriorating ties with Latin American states.
“Chile is home to a significant Palestinian community — one of the biggest Palestinian diasporas outside of the Middle East. Honduras and Belize are also home to Palestinian communities. That could perhaps play a role” in governments’ decision-making, said Carmon.
That being said, the former ambassador adds that Israel’s relations with Latin American countries have evolved and deepened in the past two decades in a variety of fields, including commerce, smart agriculture, education, high tech and much more, so the decisions by Bolivia, Chile and Colombia do not necessarily reflect a trend that is expected to expand.
Perhaps more concerning for Israel, however, is the decision taken by Amman, an Israeli diplomatic source told Al-Monitor, adding that while expected, Jordan’s decision to recall its ambassador could impact broader relations between the countries exactly when dialogue is needed most. Jordan’s decision, according to the source, as well as those of Chile, Colombia and Bolivia, only play into the hands and Iran and Hamas.
Amman has likely been feeling pressure to act after tens of thousands of Jordanians have demonstrated in recent weeks, many calling for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel.
Jordanian King Abdullah, for his part, has condemned Israel several times, calling for an immediate cease-fire and warning of an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip. He also canceled a scheduled meeting in Amman with US President Joe Biden, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after a bombing near a Gaza hospital that Hamas said was caused by Israel. Israel and the United States, however, say an errant Islamic Jihad rocket bombed the parking lot of the hospital.
Israel, for its part, views Abdullah as key for stability in the region, including in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. Preserving diplomatic relations with Jordan and Egypt and safeguarding existent peace accords with both is essential from the perspective of Israel’s national security establishment.