Israeli authorities denied this week Colombia’s foreign minister entry to Ramallah, in what seemed to be a loud diplomatic statement on the status of Jerusalem, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported.
The Foreign Ministry of Bogota released a statement explaining that Israel would allow Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin to visit Ramallah only if she added Jerusalem to her itinerary.
A senior Israeli official confirmed Bogota’s statement, adding that the decision was ordered by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Had Israel permitted Holguin to visit Ramallah while not stopping by Jerusalem, the Colombian foreign minister’s visit may set a precedent many countries would follow, which Liberman, according to the official, said contradicts Israel’s stance on Jerusalem.
On Nov.3, the Colombian Embassy forwarded its request to allow Holguin into Ramallah, clearly stating that she intends to meet with the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and possibly Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Lieberman instructed Foreign Ministry staff to alert their Colombian counterparts that Holguin’s visit to Ramallah should be made only if she lands in Jerusalem as well, which authorities would regard as a visit to Israel as it claims the city at its capital, a claim not recognized by the international community.
Shortly afterward, the Colombian Foreign Ministry announced that a visit to Palestine had been removed from Holguin’s itinerary, which initially included visits to Jordan and GCC states, due to a full schedule.
She did manage to meet with al-Maliki, albeit during her visit to Amman.
In response to the diplomatic confrontation, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Emmanuel Nahshon, said in response: “As is customary and especially in light of the friendly relations [between Israel and Colombia], we invited the minister to attend a short meeting in Jerusalem, but in light of scheduling restraints the minister decided not to visit the Palestinian Authority and Israel during her current trip.”
“We hope that we will be able to arrange a visit for Minister Holguin to Israel soon,” he added.
Colombia is one of the last two states in South America that are yet to recognize Palestine as a state.
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