Israel Enlists Colombian Support Against Palestinian Statehood

Colombia cultivated a special relationship with the Israeli military during the 2000s, increasing the intervention of foreign forces in its internal conflict. Now, the Israeli government is attempting to cash in by enlisting Colombia’s UN vote against Palestinian statehood in September.

Nazih Richani 7/18/2011

204Uzi Landau (Photo: Claudia Rubio /EL TIEMPO)In light of an imminent Palestinian declaration of independence in September before the UN General Assembly, Israel is pressuring the Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos not to recognize Palestine statehood. This was the primary objective of the Israeli Minister of Infrastructure Uzi Landau's meeting with Santos last week. Since Santos was Minister of Defense under the Alvaro Uribe presidency (2002-2010) he has developed strong ties with Israel. This relationship included the purchase of weapons, hiring private security companies, and intelligence services.

But it is important to note that the Israeli footprints were evident in the Colombian conflict years before Santos. Since the 1980s, the retired army officer turned mercenary Yair Klein, trained the right-wing death squads of the narcotraffickers Pablo Escobar and Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha. Carlos Castaño and Salvatore Mancuso were both leaders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a right-wing paramilitary group that received military training in Israel.

Consequently, Santos only reinvigorated the relationship and upgraded it to the state level. Now with Santos as president, the Israeli government is attempting to cash in by enlisting Colombia’s "no" vote in September. Would Colombia be among the very few in Latin America to object to the aspirations of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination?

For some context in the evolution of the relationship between Colombia and Israel I provide (below) a segment of a cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Bogota describing the relationship and the significant role of Israel in the conflict.

 

Released by Wikileaks

S E C R E T BOGOTA 004036

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2018

TAGS: PGOV PINR PTER MASS MCAP PREL CO IS

SUBJECT: COLOMBIA'S RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL (C-NE8-00834)

 

REF: STATE 64659

 

Classified By: Political Counselor John Creamer

Reasons 1.4 (b and d)

 

“Colombia's defense cooperation with Israel cooled during the 1980s and 1990s, when some Israeli mercenaries

reportedly helped train paramilitary forces in Colombia. More recently, the GOC has engaged former Israeli military

officials to help provide training and advice in the fight against the FARC and other terrorist groups.  A contact

within the Colombian Ministry of Defense (MOD) told us that this new relationship dates back to December 2006.

Over the last two years, Embassy officers visiting the MOD and Colombian military have observed an increased

presence of Israeli advisors.

 

(S) Israeli contractors support the GOC through arms sales, military training, and the provision of strategic

military planning and consulting services.  The GOC has also engaged Israeli contractors to train Colombian special

forces, particularly related to high value targets (HVTs). In 2005 and 2006, there was significant frustration among

senior Colombian military leadership related to a poor success rate in killing or capturing HVTs.  The GOC

subsequently contracted retired and active duty Israel Defense Force officers with special operations and military

intelligence backgrounds to help in this regard.  Israeli contractors have also made recommendations to the GOC on

military purchases, joint military operations, and how to restructure Colombia's intelligence services.”

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