Colombia did not expel the Israeli ambassador
False information regarding the expulsion of the ambassador of Israel from Colombia was debunked by the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Peace
Claim: The Colombian government has expelled the Israeli ambassador from their country.
Fact: The Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Peace announced on his officially verified X (formerly Twitter) account that the state has not expelled the Israeli ambassador, and that it was a misrepresentation of an informal statement that he tweeted in response to a developing diplomatic crisis between Colombia and Israel amidst the escalating tensions in Gaza.
On October 7 2023 the Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, launched a “surprise attack” on Israel via sea, land, and air. In response, the Israeli government formally declared war on Hamas on 8 October 2023.
At least 1,400 fatalities have been reported in Israel, while health officials reported that more than 5,000 people have been killed in Gaza, Palestine, according to a report by UN News. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the UNRWA, reported that over one million people, almost half the total population of Gaza, have been displaced.
On 16 October 2023, several social media posts claimed that the Colombian government had decided to expel the Israeli ambassador from their country because of Israel’s continued bombing in Gaza.
GTV Network published a video with the following news bulletin, “Due to the atrocities committed in Gaza, Colombia has decided to expel the Israeli ambassador from their country.” The caption and title further state that Colombia stands in support of Palestine and has ordered the Israeli ambassador to leave the country.
According to the viral claim Colombian President Gustavo Petro also said that Colombia will not allow any kind of genocide, and if we are forced to abandon ties with Israel, we will. Furthermore, as per the report, the Colombian minister of foreign affairs also demanded that the Israeli ambassador apologise to President Petro.
Fact or Fiction?
On 16 October 2023, Columbia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Peace Álvaro Leyva Durán published a tweet from his official X account, shaming a statement made by Lior Haiat, spokesperson of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He tweeted, “The history of universal diplomacy will record as a milestone the senseless arrogance of the Israeli ambassador in Colombia towards @petrogustavo Republic President. Shame. Minimum make excuses and leave.”
However, this statement was not an official expulsion of the Israeli ambassador by the Colombian government. It came as an unofficial response to pointed tweets on X about the situation in Israel and Palestine, between Colombian president Petro, Israel’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Haiat, and Israel’s ambassador to Colombia Gali Dagan which had been developing since 7 October 2023.
The diplomatic strain began on 7 October 2023 when President Petro posted his first tweet in response to the escalations in Gaza, “War has broken out again between Israel and Palestinian Gaza. In my speech at the United Nations I showed how world power treated the Russian occupation of Ukraine in one way and the Israeli occupation of Palestine in another, very different way. My votes go to establishing a peace dialogue where the Palestinian state is fully recognized,” the tweet said.
In the tweet, Petro refers to his official address to the United Nations on 19 September 2023. In it he urged the United Nations to hold two conferences, one for the war in Ukraine and the other for the war in Gaza to mitigate the problem of political hypocrisy as a practice, “They are forgetting that for the same reasons they use to defend Zelensky, are those very reasons which should be deployed to defend Palestine. They forget that to meet the sustainable development goals, all wars must be brought to an end.” he said. This speech was prior to the current escalation.
On 8 October 2023, the Israeli ambassador to Colombia Gali Dagan responded in an exclusive interview with SEMANA that Israel hopes Petro will strongly condemn the terrorist attack. The same day, the Israeli ambassador also requested President Petro’s help to rescue more than a hundred Israeli citizens who are held hostage by Hamas. Petro responded by tweeting: “Of course we are willing to help. The Colombian government is committed to ensuring that there is not a single hostage in the entire territory of Palestine and Israel.”
On 9 October 2023, Petro once again tweeted condemning the siege of Gaza which was announced by the Israeli defence minister. In another tweet he compared the decision to how Nazis treated the Jews at the time of the Holocaust, “Concentration camps are prohibited by international law and those who develop them become criminals against humanity,” the tweet said.
In response to this, the Israeli ambassador invited Petro to the Auschwitz concentration camp, after which Petro tweeted that he had already seen Auschwitz and compared it to the current situation in Gaza.
On 10 October 2023, diplomatic relations were strained further when President Gustavo Petro published a tweet sharing a video of a site in central Gaza that showed a scene of complete destruction. Petro captioned his repost with a statement comparing the situation in Gaza to the Warsaw ghetto. The tweet exactly said:
“[Translation] You can have all the Zionists speak in the press but here I am going to make another historical comparison.
Gaza today appears as destroyed or more so than the Warsaw ghetto after it was destroyed by Nazi barbarity in response to the Jewish and socialist insurrection in that concentration camp.
140 Palestinian boys and girls have been bombed dead. They were not Hamas militants.
Hamas and the Israeli right feed each other in blood.
Before our eyes, Western societies elected right-wing parties in their governments, scared by immigration, and those right-wing parties ended up supporting the Israeli extreme right, leading the world to a global 1933.
The era of barbarism as I wrote in my book has begun. Immigration will become an exodus given the European refusal to address democracy and peace as the axes of its foreign policy.
The government of Colombia supports the UN resolutions that advocate for two free states: one Israeli and the other Palestinian, recognizes the two states and requests the state of Israel to stop militarily occupying the Palestinian state.”
Over the next few days, the Colombian president continued to share pro-Palestinian content through his X account.
Provoked by the Colombian president’s strong stance, on 15 October 2023, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat then published a press release on his X account, “delivering a reprimand concerning the hostile and anti semitic statements against the State of Israel made last week by the President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro.” The press release detailed that as a first measure taken in response to these comments, Israel has decided to stop its security exports to Colombia.
On 16 October 2023, in response to this statement, Columbia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Peace Álvaro Leyva Durán published a tweet from his official X account in which he shamed the “senseless arrogance” of the Israeli ambassador adding he should, “make excuses and leave.”
This final tweet by Duran was heavily misconstrued by the international media as a formal expulsion of the Israeli ambassador such as, Middle East Monitor, National Review, The New Arab, NEWS.am, IRNA English, and others.
However, Alvaro Leyva Duran was quick to post a clarification on X on the same day.
He said, “Entiéndase. No he dicho que el embajador de Israel esté expulsado. Solo se aspira y se indica que la cordura de las palabras y respeto al Presidente Petro @petrogustavo son obligatorias en las relaciones diplomáticas. Así debe ser.”
[Translation: Understand. I have not said that the Israeli ambassador was expelled, only that we hope and direct that the carefulness of words and respect for President Petro is obligatory in diplomatic relations. This is how it should be]
This shows that the Colombian minister simply expressed his desire for the Israeli ambassador to speak more respectfully and apologize rather than formally expelling the ambassador himself. In general, however, an emotionally charged informal tweet cannot be lifted out of context and likened to the expulsion of an ambassador. For an ambassador’s expulsion a formal procedure of removal, in accordance with Article 9 of the 1961 Vienna Treaty on Diplomatic Relations, is typically enacted.
On Facebook we found hundreds of posts repeating the claim, some of them can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. These posts have been viewed more than 150,000 times.
Conclusion: The Colombian government has not decided to expel the Israeli ambassador.
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