The World Jewish Congress on Wednesday lauded Colombia’s decision not to
recognize a Palestinian state, saying it showed courage in the face of pressure
from neighboring countries.
“We value your friendship and courage for
Israel and the Jewish people,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder
said. “We also appreciate that you have withstood pressure from fellow Latin
American leaders to prematurely recognize a Palestinian state.”
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President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón’s announcement to a delegation of the WJC
that he would not recognize Palestinian statehood as a “matter of principle” was
a rare victory for Israel after a series of diplomatic defeats to the
Palestinians in Latin America.
In the past half-year, a string of Latin
American countries, mostly with left-leaning governments, including Brazil,
Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Guyana, have recognized Palestinian statehood.
Chile, which has a right-leaning government, has also recognized Palestinian
statehood with caveats.
The announcement in Bogota represents an unusual
diplomatic victory for Israel in a region where the Middle Eastern conflict is
often seen through the prism of local politics, with right-wing politicians
siding with Israel – often perceived as an extension of the US – and left-wing
politicians supporting the Palestinians.
The right-leaning government of
Colombia is considered to be a staunch supporter of the US in the region and has
close ties with Israel. Latin American Jewish Congress President Jack Terpins
thanked Bogota for fighting the growing influence of Iran, which is a close
friend of Colombia’s neighbor and occasional rival Venezuela.
Colombia, you know what horrible suffering terrorism inflicts on people,”
Terpins said. “After the two deadly bomb attacks against the AMIA Center and the
Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in the 1990s that were orchestrated by Iran, we
Jews know that extremists must be vigorously opposed. We hope that a
consensus can be reached among political leaders here that currently, Tehran
cannot be a partner for closer political or economic cooperation in any shape or