Colombia's Petro to open embassy in Ramallah, occupied West Bank

Colombia's Petro to open embassy in Ramallah, occupied West Bank
The announcement comes amid greater recognition of Palestine, with Norway, Spain and Ireland announcing they would recognise a Palestinian state.
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Colombia closed its embassy to Israel on 3 May [Getty]

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has ordered the opening of an embassy in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Foreign Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo told journalists on Wednesday.

"President Petro has given the order that we open the Colombian embassy in Ramallah, the representation of Colombia in Ramallah, that is the next step we are going to take," Murillo said.

Murillo added he believes more countries will soon begin backing the recognition of a Palestinian state before the United Nations, efforts Colombia has already supported.

At the beginning of this month, Petro, who had already recalled the Colombian ambassador from Tel Aviv, said he would break diplomatic relations with Israel over its actions in Gaza. The embassy was closed on 3 May.

Petro has heavily criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has requested to join South Africa's case accusing Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Petro of being "antisemitic and full of hate" following Colombia's decision to cut ties with the Middle Eastern country, saying the move was a reward for Hamas.

Ramallah, in the West Bank, serves as the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority.

On 10 May, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a Palestinian bid to become a full UN member by recognizing it as qualified to join and recommended the UN Security Council "reconsider the matter favorably."

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 35,800 Palestinians and wounded a further 80,011, with thousands believed to be under rubble. The war came following Hamas attack against southern Israel on 7 October that killed 1,200 people and took some 250 captives.

Israel's response has drawn heavy international criticism, with aid access into southern Gaza disrupted since it stepped up military operations in Rafah, a move that the UN says has forced 900,000 people to flee and has raised tensions with neighboring Egypt.

Colombia was not the first Latin American country to cut ties with Israel.

Bolivia broke with relations with Israel at the end of October last year while several other countries in Latin America, including Chile and Honduras, have recalled their ambassadors. 

(Reuters & The New Arab Staff)