Colombia’s Defense Minister has stated that security contracts with Israel have not been suspended. Ivan Velasquez clarified that no official communication has been received from the Israeli government regarding the sanctions suggested after the heated controversy over President Petro’s tweets about Israel’s counteroffensive in Gaza.
In this context, and if the minister’s announcement holds, the Israeli threats would not have materialized beyond a statement. Velasquez said, “There has not yet been an official communication; what we have is a statement from the Israeli foreign minister, but it’s not an official communication to the Colombian government. At the moment, the contracts remain,” in an attempt to clarify the status of security commitments between the two countries.
The U.S. Letter
As things stand, the minister has assured that if Israel enforces these sanctions officially, Colombia would not be negatively affected. This would be the case because the country has the support of the United States to fulfill security cooperation needs.
“The contracts remain. Additionally, there is the offer from the United States to step in to say that they will supply whatever is needed. So, I don’t believe there will be any disruption even in the event that those contracts end,” the minister clarified.
Israel is the primary supplier for spare parts for the Kfir aircraft, which are nearing the end of their service with the Colombian Aerospace Force. Velásquez pointed out that they are waiting for U.S. support regarding this issue.
Addressing the Diplomatic Crisis
The entire issue began with President Petro’s repeated comments against Israel’s military policy in the Gaza Strip. After several days of condemnation and criticism, the spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Minister, Lior Haiat, publicly condemned the statements of the Colombian president and called for an urgent meeting with the Colombian ambassador in Tel Aviv. The crisis ended with Haiat’s announcement of suspending security equipment exports to Colombia.
“Israel condemns the president’s statements, which reflect support for the atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists, fuel antisemitism, affect the representatives of the State of Israel, and threaten the peace of the Jewish community in Colombia. In response, as a first step, Israel has decided to halt security exports to Colombia,” the Israeli statement said.
This week, in an attempt to resolve the crisis, the Colombian president separately met with the ambassadors of Israel and Palestine in Colombia. Both meetings resulted in the Colombian presidency’s commitment to holding a peace conference, sponsored by the United Nations, to seek a diplomatic solution to the serious crisis in the Middle East region.
“I have met today with the Ambassador of Israel and the Ambassador of Palestine. I have expressed my position to achieve an international peace conference that paves the way for two independent and free states. I have expressed my solidarity with Israeli and Palestinian children who have the right to live in peace. We will send a plane with humanitarian aid to the vicinity of Gaza, waiting for a humanitarian corridor to open,” Gustavo Petro said regarding the meetings with the Israeli and Palestinian diplomats.