Thursday, June 20, 2024

Bolivia breaks off ties with Israel: “Terrorist state”

Bolivian President Luis Arce 

The government of Bolivia announced on Tuesday that it was severing diplomatic relations with Israel due to its military operation in Gaza and alleged war crimes against the Palestinians.

“Bolivia decided to break diplomatic relations with the state of Israel in repudiation and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive taking place in the Gaza Strip,” Deputy Foreign Minister Freddy Mamani said at a press conference, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Acting Foreign Minister Maria Nela Prada accused Israel of “committing crimes against humanity” in Gaza, calling on the Israeli government to “cease attacks in the Gaza Strip that have already resulted in thousands of civilian casualties and the forced displacement of Palestinians.”

She also demanded an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza that “prevents the entry of food, water and other essential elements for life,” in violation of international humanitarian law.

The move follows President Luis Arce’s meeting on Monday with the Palestinian ambassador in La Paz, Mahmoud Elalwani. 

Bolivia has severed relations with Israel on account of Gaza once before, in 2009, under then-president Evo Morales. Diplomatic relations were re-established by the pro-US government that ousted Morales in 2019, and remained even after the former president’s party, led by Arce, returned to power in late 2020.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday evening, Morales criticized the government for taking three years to break off relations with Israel again, and doing so only under popular pressure. 

“This is not enough, Bolivia must declare Israel a terrorist state and file a complaint with the International Criminal Court,” added the former president, who announced last month that he would challenge Arce for the leadership in 2025.

Israel declared war on Hamas after the October 7 incursion by the Palestinian militant group, which claimed the lives of 1,400 Israelis, including many civilians. Gaza officials have said that more than 8,500 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli air and artillery strikes in the weeks since.

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