The Colombian Foreign Minister, Alvaro Leyva, has called on Israel’s ambassador in Bogota, Gali Dagan, to apologize and leave the country after the ambassador criticized President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, for his position on the IDF-Hamas conflict in Gaza. While Dagan will not be expelled, Leyva advised him to respect the host country’s president, stating that it is mandatory in diplomatic relations.
The diplomatic spat between the two nations began on October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from Gaza, targeting civilian and military sites and taking hostages. In response, Israel launched retaliatory airstrikes on the enclave. President Petro, in a post on social media, claimed that Hamas was an invention of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, and expressed sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinian people.
In a sarcastic response, Ambassador Dagan acknowledged Petro’s claim, stating that it is true and adding, “I would like to share with you additional information from our intelligence services, which are some of the best in the world: The Elders of Zion founded the Gulf Clan. There are still Jews, with large, aquiline noses, who command the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.”
Petro, in his post, described the Israeli response to the Gaza conflict as “beastly” and compared it to Nazi rhetoric. He warned against allowing Nazism to reestablish itself in international politics and expressed concern that hate speech could lead to a “holocaust.”
The dispute between Colombia and Israel intensified when Israel publicly condemned Petro’s statements, accusing him of inflaming antisemitism and threatening the safety of the Jewish community in Colombia. Colombia’s ambassador to Israel, Margarita Manjarrez, was summoned for an official reprimand, during which she was informed that defense cooperation between the two countries would be suspended.
In response to Israel’s decision to suspend security exports to Colombia, Petro threatened to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel. He also called on Latin America to show solidarity with Colombia.
The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has resulted in days of fighting, with Israel conducting retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza and vowing to eliminate Hamas. Israeli officials claim that the death toll has reached about 1,400, while the Palestinian Health Ministry reports more than 2,800 deaths in Gaza.
It remains to be seen how the diplomatic spat between Colombia and Israel will be resolved. The exchange of harsh words and accusations highlights the deeply entrenched divisions and tensions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both countries may need to find a way to repair the damaged relationship and return to constructive dialogue and cooperation.