Venezuela Expels Israeli Ambassador in Solidarity with Palestinian People

To express solidarity with the Palestinian people, Venezuela expelled Israel’s ambassador, is organizing humanitarian aid, and has called on the international community to protest. In response, the Israeli government called Venezuela a terrorist state.

Mérida, January 7, 2009 (– To express solidarity with the Palestinian people, Venezuela expelled Israel’s ambassador, is organizing humanitarian aid, and has called on the international community to protest. In response, the Israeli government called Venezuela a terrorist state.

The Israeli ambassador in Venezuela, Shlomo Cohen, was expelled from Venezuela on Tuesday in response to the recent attacks by the Israeli government on Gaza.

The Venezuelan ministry for foreign affairs explained the action its statement dated January 5:

The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela witnesses once again, together with the peoples of the world, the horror of the death of innocent women and children as a result of the invasion of the Gaza strip by Israeli troops and from the bombardment that, from sky and land, the State of Israel systematically executes over Palestinian territory.

In this tragic and infuriating time, the people of Venezuela manifest their unlimited solidarity with the heroic Palestinian people, and share in the grief that has seized thousands of families for the loss of loved ones and holds its hands out to affirm that the Venezuelan government won’t rest until those responsible have been severely punished for these heinous crimes.

The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela categorically condemns the blatant violations of International Law that the State of Israel has committed and denounces its planned use of state terrorism, with which it has placed itself outside the community of nations.

For the above reasons, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has decided to expel the Israeli ambassador and part of the staff in the Israeli embassy in Venezuela, reaffirming its position of peace and its demand for respecting international law.

The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has instructed its representatives to the United Nations, which together with most governments that agree, urges the Security Council to put urgent and necessary measures in place to stop this invasion by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people.

President Hugo Chavez, who has held meetings with top representatives of the World Jewish Council and has always opposed anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination and racism, makes a brotherly call on the Jewish people throughout the world to oppose the criminal politics of the state of Israel that bring to mind the worst pages of the history of the twentieth century. With the genocide of the Palestinian people, the Israeli state will never be able to offer its people a perspective of lasting peaces, as is so needed.

Chavez has demanded that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Omert, be taken to the International Criminal Court for his aggression against Gaza and for more than 500 civilian deaths.

“They bomb innocent people. Oh wow, how brave is the Israeli army! And those who accuse me of being a tyrant and of genocide are the ones who stay silent in front of such evidence,” Chavez said.

He also called on the Israeli people to rise up against their government and condemned the prohibition against water, food, and the International Red Cross entering the Gaza strip.

Israeli response

Israel will expel the Venezuelan charge d’affaires, based in Tel Aviv, in retaliation for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Venezuela.

Israel’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said in her response, “Israel will continue defending itself from its enemies, among those Hamas and Iran, with which Venezuela has close ties.”

“Venezuela needs to choose what side of the war it is on. It should choose between those who struggle against terrorism and those who support it. It is no surprise that Venezuela has again made clear to the world on what side it positions itself.”

Roy Chaderton Matos, the Venezuelan ambassador to the Organization of American States, in an interview on Venezuelan state TV, said that Israel was being totalitarian when it classified Venezuela as an “ally of terrorism” and he likened the language used in the statement from Israel to that of the Bush administration.

Matos said that Israel is a military government that knows no other solution than violence and that Venezuela would always defend persecuted peoples, “this includes persecuted Jews, Arabic peoples, and any others.”

Hamas, in a press release on its website, said that it appreciated the “courageous” step by Chavez, a step that no other “Arab countries who maintain relations with Israel, dare to take.”

Further solidarity

On Tuesday the Venezuelan National Assembly had a minute of silence for the victims of the Israeli armed forces in the Gaza strip.  Legislator Roy Daza proposed the minute of silence, saying that the attacks on Gaza deserve the complete rejection of the international community.

Daza said the invasion is genocide against the Palestinian people and asked the National Assembly to sign a declaration condemning the actions of the Israeli government as criminal.

The National Assembly in its official statement demanded a cease of all military action by Israel in Gaza and rejected the attitude taken on by the United Nations Security Council of not stopping the “massacre…owing to the veto imposed by the United States government.”

It said, “An end must be brought to the occupation of the territories [of Palestine], and to the siege imposed on the Gaza strip, to the Israeli settlements, and the question of the Palestinian refugees must be resolved, to be able to guarantee peace in the region.”

The Palestinian flag will be raised in the National Assembly for one month as a gesture of solidarity.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro announced that the government would establish an “air bridge” to send humanitarian aid to Palestine. Venezuela would work with other Arabic and Muslim nations, he said, as well as with other Latin American countries, to bring medicine, food, water, and milk to Palestine.

Maduro called the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Venezuela an “act full of love, the desire for peace, as well as anger, pain and condemnation, a greeting and a brotherly hug of solidarity.”

“The world must raise its voice, as the most powerful of all the powers of the world is the people, international public opinion, and it should continue raising its voice in all the streets of all the cities and towns until a cease fire is imposed, Gaza is no longer occupied and there are fair peace negotiations for the Palestinian people,” he said.