Chavez: No plan to restore Israel ties

Venezuela officially broke off relations in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, saying Israel is "genocidal."

Chavez 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Chavez 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his government wasn't considering restoring diplomatic ties with Israel. Chavez told the pan-Arab TV station Al-Jazeera that he would only reconsider if Israel's leaders stop being a "genocidal elite subordinated to the United States." Venezuela broke off relations with Israel in January to protest its offensive in the Gaza Strip. The Venezuelan state news agency reported that Al-Jazeera asked Chavez about restoring ties and that Chavez replied: "We haven't thought about that, and nothing is seen on the horizon to re-establish relations." Clips from the interview were shown Sunday on Venezuelan state TV as Chavez prepared to attend a summit of South American and Arab leaders in Qatar. Late January, Israel decided to expel Venezuela's diplomats in response to Caracas's expulsion of Israel's ambassador three weeks before. While Hugo Chavez's Venezuela expelled Israel's diplomats on January 6 and then declared a total break of ties on January 14, the country kept its three-person embassy here open until it was ordered by the Foreign Ministry to close. The embassy employees were given 72 hours to leave the country. Venezuela has not had an ambassador in Israel for years, and has been served by a charge d'affaires. Israel's interests in Caracas will now be represented by the Canadian Embassy. It is not yet clear who will represent Venezuela here.