Israel’s ongoing military campaign in the Gaza Strip has sparked a wave of diplomatic protests from several Latin American countries, some of which have severed or suspended their ties with the Jewish state.
Bolivia announced on Tuesday that it has cut off diplomatic relations with Israel, accusing it of committing “aggressive and disproportionate” attacks against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Bolivia’s decision came after a meeting with the Palestinian ambassador to the South American country, according to the minister of the Bolivian presidency, Maria Nela Prada.
Bolivia is not the first country in the region to break off ties with Israel over its actions in Gaza. In 2009, Venezuela and Nicaragua also severed their relations with Israel in protest of its previous war in the coastal enclave. Bolivia restored its ties with Israel in 2020, after a change of government, but reversed its decision again this week.
Other Latin American countries have also expressed their condemnation of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, which has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Chile and Colombia have recalled their ambassadors to Israel for consultations, while Mexico and Brazil have called for an immediate ceasefire.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric accused Israel of violating international humanitarian law and following a policy of “collective punishment” of the people of Gaza. Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro called the attacks a “massacre of the Palestinian people”. Both leaders announced their decisions to recall their envoys on social media.
The diplomatic backlash from Latin America reflects the growing sympathy for the Palestinian cause in the region, which has a large and influential Palestinian diaspora, especially in Chile. Historically, Latin America’s left-leaning countries have been more critical of Israel, while the more right-wing countries have tended to follow the lead of the United States, Israel’s main ally.
However, the recent escalation of violence in Gaza has blurred the lines between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli sentiments in Latin America, as some progressive governments have dropped their traditional antagonism toward any ally of the United States. Even countries that have maintained or established diplomatic relations with Israel, such as Argentina and Uruguay, have expressed their concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza and urged for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry also downplayed the significance of Bolivia’s move, saying that “relations between the countries have been devoid of content anyway” since Luis Arce was sworn in as president.
The diplomatic crisis between Israel and some Latin American countries comes amid international efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, after more than two weeks of fighting. Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations have been mediating between the two sides, while the United States has sent an envoy to the region to facilitate the talks. So far, no agreement has been reached, as both sides have set different conditions for ending the hostilities.