Colombia's new president-elect Ivan Duque has said he's considering to move their embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and become the third Latin American country, and the fourth in total, to follow the example of U.S. President Donald Trump.
During a campaign event on May 16, Duque said he doesn't rule out “the possibility of placing the diplomatic seat in Jerusalem” and that he wishes to “maintain the best possible relations with the state of Israel.”
In a video of the event, in which Duque met with local churches, the president-elect praises the state of Israel, their recovery of “their historical territories” and blames the Palestinian resistence movement Hamas for the recent attacks in which more than a hundred Palestinians have been murdered by the Israeli forces, using the same arguement and excuses parrated by the Israeli right-wing government.
Duque stressed that he has had a strong relationship with Israel and the history of the Jewish people in the territory and mentioned he participated “actively” in the Palmer-Uribe report, co-authored by his hardline mentor Alvaro Uribe, which whitewashed Israel's deadly attack on the 2010 “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” and the Turkish humanitarian-aid ship Mavi Marmara, besides justifying the siege on Gaza.
Other Colombian candidates, such as runner-up left-wing Gustavo Petro, rejected Duque's position and harshly criticized his comments.
Petro has been a fierce critic of the U.S. decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem and accused the Israeli forces of carrying out a massacre against Gazans during the Nakba, or Catastrophe, protests in the few months leading up to its anniversry last month.
But little after his controversial comments, Duque offered a different view ahead of the elections. In interview with Caracol Radio, Duque said he will contribute with what's necessary to achieve peace in the Middle East and expressed his support for the two-state solution.
“Colombia can't foster hate in the Middle East... we must contribute to the desired two-state solution... all that I can do in that direction I'll do it for the recognition of both peoples,” he said.
Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe speaks to members of the media after right wing candidate Ivan Duque won the presidential election, in Medellin, Colombia, June 17, 2018. Photo | Reuters
Duque is widely regarded as the puppet of Alvaro Uribe, a former president of Colombia known for his paramilitary legacy. In his attempt to combat different guerrillas in the territory, he carried a deadly war that took the lives of thousands of innocent people, including the “false positives,” or civilians murdered by the military and then dressed up in uniforms to show them as guerrilla fighters killed in combat.
A president with such attitudes and policies was a natural friend of Israel, which he strongly supported and defended in their fight against “terrorism.” The Zionist state became Colombia's biggest weapons supplier, including Kfir aircraft, drones, weapons and intelligence systems and cooperation.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales became the first Latin American leader to follow Trump's decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. He was followed by Paraguay's Horacio Cartes.
In December 2017, Morales said that Guatemala had been “historically pro-Israel” and that they have considered them allies since the time of its creation. Therefore, moving the embassy is a continuation of 70 years of a supportive relationship.
A review of Guatemalan-Israeli diplomatic relations supports Morales' comments. In the early 1980s, the Israeli military helped the Guatemalan regimes that carried out a genocide against the Mayan population.
Even though thousands of Mayans were killed during the Guatemalan Civil War, the period known as the “Mayan Genocide,” which lasted from 1981 to 1983 coincides with the peak of Israel-Guatemala military cooperation.