Colombia's Petro orders the opening of embassy in Palestinian territory

Reuters:  Colombian President Gustavo Petro has ordered the opening of an embassy in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Foreign Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo told journalists on Wednesday.

"President Petro has given the order that we open the Colombian embassy in Ramallah, the representation of Colombia in Ramallah, that is the next step we are going to take," Murillo said.

Murillo added he believes more countries will soon begin backing the recognition of a Palestinian state before the United Nations, efforts Colombia has already supported.

At the beginning of this month, Petro, who had already recalled the Colombian ambassador from Tel Aviv, said he would break diplomatic relations with Israel over its actions in Gaza. The embassy was closed on May 3.

Petro has heavily criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has requested to join South Africa's case accusing Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Petro of being "antisemitic and full of hate" following Colombia's decision to cut ties with the Middle Eastern country, saying the move was a reward for Hamas.

Ramallah, in the West Bank, serves as the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority.

On May 10, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a Palestinian bid to become a full U.N. member by recognizing it as qualified to join and recommended the U.N. Security Council "reconsider the matter favorably."

Israel has been rooting out Hamas in Gaza over a brutal rampage by Hamas militants in Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 taken hostage. Nearly 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Israel's response has drawn heavy international criticism, with aid access into southern Gaza disrupted since it stepped up military operations in Rafah, a move that the U.N. says has forced 900,000 people to flee and has raised tensions with neighboring Egypt.

Colombia was not the first Latin American country to cut ties with Israel.

Bolivia broke with relations with Israel at the end of October last year while several other countries in Latin America, including Chile and Honduras, have recalled their ambassadors.

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