Israel–Palestine conflict: Bolivia cuts diplomatic ties; Jordan, Colombia & Chile recall envoys

Global divisions have been highlighted in this first set of diplomatic sanctions against Israel, amidst outcry over huge humanitarian concerns on behalf of Gaza residents

Almost 8,800 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza during Israel's retaliation against the Hamas strikes of 7 October, media reports estimate. Bolivia's diplomatic sanction is the first against Israel (photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)
Almost 8,800 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza during Israel's retaliation against the Hamas strikes of 7 October, media reports estimate. Bolivia's diplomatic sanction is the first against Israel (photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

NH Political Bureau

As the Israel–Palestine conflict in Gaza continues to escalate, diplomatic tensions are on the rise as several countries in the international community express concerns on humanitarian grounds.

Even as a large number of influential nations such as the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as India, hastened to 'stand with Israel' and supported its right to response to what they term a 'terror attack', the United Nations and humanitarian watchdogs such as Amnesty International, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights) have called attention to Israel's own responsibilities in terms of the historical context of an occupation regime, disproportionate use of force, actions that endanger civilians and blocking access to aid.

Very few nations have spoken out in no uncertain times, with many aiming for a cautious or 'balanced' response in the ongoing conflict.

However, Bolivia has been the first to unequivocally close down its embassy in Israel and sent out a message on Tuesday, 31 October, that it was cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.

Colombia and Chile followed suit more cautiously yesterday, 1 November, by recalling their envoys, without any final statements on their plans.

Today, 2 November, Jordan has the same step, which may be read as a significant one towards a similar outcome of diplomatic disengagement or sanction.

Jordan, of course, was the nation that mooted the Gaza resolution in the UN General Assembly last week, which the US voted against and India abstained from — but which was nonetheless carried by an overwhelming majority vote.

Bolivia bold move against Israel

Bolivia's was the boldest and first move, expressing its repudiation and condemnation of an "aggressive and disproportionate military offensive" in the Gaza Strip.

Deputy foreign affairs minister Freddy Mamani announced the nation's decision during a joint news conference with the minister of the presidency, Maraa Nela Prada.

"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," Mamani said told the media.

For her part, Nela Prada said: “Bolivia demands an end to the attacks in the Gaza Strip, which have so far caused thousands of civilian deaths and the forced displacement of Palestinians; as well as the cessation of the blockade that prevents the entry of food, water and other essential elements for life, violating international law and international humanitarian law in the treatment of the civilian population in armed conflicts."

Demanding an end to Israel's attacks into Gaza, Nela Prada also said that "humanitarian aid will be sent from Bolivia to those affected in the Gaza Strip".

In a statement, the Bolivian government highlighted President Luis Arce's solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to live in peace. It also denounced the "war crimes" in Gaza, emphasising the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law.

This is not the first time Bolivia has played this move, however. The country took a similar step in 2009 during the government of leftist president Evo Morales, protesting against Israel's actions in Gaza.

Relations were reestablished in 2020.

What do Colombia and Chile's steps mean?

Just hours after Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations with Israel, Colombia and Chile joined the chorus of condemnation against Israel's offensive in Gaza.

Colombian president Gustavo Petro announced that he had called back the Colombian ambassador in Israel for a 'consultation'. He made this decision based on the ongoing violence in Gaza, characterising it as a "massacre of the Palestinian people".

In a statement released late on 31 October, the Colombian foreign ministry expressed its 'strongest rejection' of the actions of Israeli security forces in Gaza, and reiterated the urgency of a ceasefire and the obligation that Israel's security forces have to observe international humanitarian law, per a Xinhua news agency report.

'The full recognition of the two States by all nations of the world and dialogue between the parties should bring peace to the region,' the statement added.

Chile followed suit by also recalling its envoy to Israel, citing Israel's 'violation of international humanitarian law'.

'Chile strongly condemns and observes with great concern that these military operations, which at this point in their development involve collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, do not respect fundamental norms of international law, as demonstrated by the more than 8,000 civilian victims, mostly women and children,' its statement said.

Chile's presidency called for 'an immediate end to the hostilities' in order to 'deploy a humanitarian support operation to help the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and civilian victims', it added.

Jordan and its queen speak up and push back

Jordan recalled its own envoy in Israel yesterday, 2 November, in protest against Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip.

Jordan’s foreign ministry said in a statement that foreign minister Ayman Safadi had asked ambassador Rasan Al-Majali to return to Amman: 'This was in protest (of) the raging war carried out by Israel in the Gaza Strip, leading to the death of several innocent citizens and unprecedented human rights issues in the area.'

Jordan also 'asked' Israel's foreign ministry to inform its ambassador to Jordan, Rogel Rochman — who is presently in Israel due to concerns over security threats in Amman — not to come back.

Meanwhile, Jordan's Queen Rania criticised US president Joe Biden and the media for what she referred to as "confirmation bias" and a "glaring double standard" in their response to the conflict, speaking to veteran journalist Christiane Amanpour of the CNN. She pointed to differences in the way the deaths of Israeli and Palestinian civilians were reported, with a particular focus on the gruesome nature of allegations against one side.

Rania Al Abdullah was born Rania Al-Yassin and is herself of Palestinian parentage.

The queen specifically mentioned a statement by President Biden regarding photos of beheaded Israeli children that he claimed to have seen, a statement the government later retracted. She called this an example of confirmation bias, emphasising the importance of verifying information before reporting — including the CNN in her criticism too — and noting that such a claim on the Palestinian side would not have been published without the due diligence of verification or citation of independent sources.

In response, Amanpour, who is herself of British-Iranian heritage, claimed the media at least had in fact seen images of babies not beheaded, but bullet-ridden.

The queen, however, went on to highlight the need for empathy and repeated Jordan's call for a ceasefire, while expressing concern about the lack of international action to alleviate the suffering in Gaza.

Jordan had, notably, led the UN resolution calling for a humanitarian truce.

The growing global divide

The diplomatic and leadership responses to the Gaza conflict over the last almost one month have certainly served to underline the deep divisions in international perspectives on the Israel–Palestine dispute.

While some countries express solidarity with Palestine and condemn Israel's actions as disproportionately violent — and violative of humanitarian laws, perhaps even amounting to war crimes — others continue to support Israel's 'right to self-defence'.

The conflict has definitely created a challenging diplomatic landscape worldwide, with a tangle of economic fallouts also doubtless informing some of the statements put out and stances being adopted.

Inputs from Haaretz (leading Israeli newspaper) and IANS

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