Netanyahu speaks at his annual pre-Rosh Hashana toast .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Citing the “situation in the south,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday cancelled his planned trip to Colombia next week to attend the inauguration of newly-elected president Ivan Duque.
This is the first time Netanyahu has canceled a trip abroad because of the country’s security situation in years.
The cancellation comes just four days after the Prime Minister’s Office announced the trip, which would have been Netanyahu’s second trip to Latin America – and to Colombia – in less than a year.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that, “due to the situation in the South, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to stay in Israel next week and therefore canceled his trip to Colombia.”
Officials said that at this point in time, Netanyahu could not afford to be in transit and not in continuous contact with Jerusalem for 17 hours, the length of the flight to Colombia, with one stopover both on the way there and on the way back home.
Netanyahu was slated to leave on Monday, and return back to Israel on Friday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Argentina, September 11, 2017
His cancellation prompted a large degree of speculation, ranging from the possibility that the “situation in the South” referred not to tensions in Gaza and the possibility of a wider conflagration there, but rather the opposite – that he needs to be available because of the possibility that there might be a breakthrough in Egyptian and UN efforts to broker a deal with Hamas and the PA regarding Gaza.
The security cabinet is scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss those mediation efforts.
There was also speculation that the cancellation had nothing to do with the South, but rather the fluid and volatile situation in Syria.
Netanyahu’s trip to Latin America last September was the first visit ever to the region by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
The premier was expected to have met with many of the 15 presidents from South and Central American countries slated to attend the August 7 inauguration ceremony, including the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, Peru and Argentina.
Now that Netanyahu has canceled the trip to Colombia, it may put back into play a trip he announced last month to Guatemala in November to attend a summit there.
Guatemala and Paraguay followed the US and opened their embassies in Jerusalem in May
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