Venezuela, Bolivia Break Diplomatic Ties With Israel - What Other Peace Loving Countries Are Doing???

. 1/15/09

Venezuela and Bolivia broke diplomatic ties with Israel over its deadly military offensive in the Gaza Strip and refusal to comply with international calls for a ceasefire, their leftist governments said.

"The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in accordance with its vision of world peace, in solidarity and respect for human rights, has decided to definitively break diplomatic ties with Israel," a government statement said.

Caracas said it made its decision due to the "cruel persecution of the Palestinian people directed by Israeli authorities."

"Israel has systematically ignored United Nations (ceasefire) calls, repeatedly and unashamedly violating approved resolutions ... and placing itself increasingly outside international law," the statement added.

Israel's "repugnant attack on the civilian population (in Gaza) is a perfect example of Israel's repeated used of state terrorism ... (against) the weak and innocent: children, women and the elderly."

On January 5, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled Israel's ambassador from Caracas, winning him hero status among Palestinians.

Venezuela's decision to cut ties with Israel came just hours after Bolivian President Evo Morales announced his government was breaking diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

Morales, a socialist like Chavez, said his government was responding to Israel's "grave attacks on human life and humanity."

Morales told a group of diplomats in the administrative capital of La Paz that he planned to ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, to bring human rights abuse charges against Israel.

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca told reporters that the diplomatic break with Israel "will in no way affect" its burgeoning bilateral trade with Bolivia, but was merely intended to prod Israel into resuming talks with the Palestinians.

Choquehuanca also said he expected the UN General Assembly meeting Thursday in New York to take a "firm stance" against Israel's military offensive in Gaza that has left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead, including some 400 civilians.

Morales' diplomatic announcement on Israel came shortly after he received a letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asking him to support an international agreement to resolve the Gaza crisis.

Iranian Cooperation Minister Mohammad Abbasi disclosed to reporters the contents of Ahmadinejad's letter after he met with the Bolivian president.

Morales said he would also report Israeli President Shimon Peres to the International Criminal Court, and ask that the premier's 1994 Nobel Peace prize be revoked.

"Mr. Perez must also be charged ... since he has done nothing to stop the criminal behavior of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his government but, on the contrary, has justified the criminal actions against the Palestinians in Gaza."

Most Latin American governments have been critical of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip that began on December 27 in retaliation for rockets launched by Palestinian militants from the tiny coastal strip on southern Israel.

The offensive has sparked widespread concern about a humanitarian crisis breaking out in one of the world's most densely populated places, where the vast majority of the 1.5 million residents depends on foreign aid.

Source: AFP

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