A decade after Bolivia’s socialist President Evo Morales severed all ties with Israel, the South American country has reestablished full diplomatic relations with the Jewish State. The decision was announced by the country’s new Foreign Minister Karen Longaric who took office as part of an interim government after the long-serving socialist leader was ousted following popular unrest over the rigged election for the nation’s parliament.

Morales, a close ally of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, had cut off relations with the Jewish State in December 2008 during Israel’s conflict with Gaza-based Islamist terror group Hamas. “The departure of President Morales, who was hostile towards Israel, and his replacement by a government friendly to Israel allowed the process to materialize,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz stated on Thursday.

The move is part of the newly-formed Bolivian government’s efforts to restore ties with the United States and its allies after thirteen years of anti-American policies of the socialist government. The new government reestablished full diplomatic relations with the U.S. on Thursday, as well, appointing a new ambassador to Washington after a gap of eleven years.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro played a key role in negotiations that led to Bolivia’s diplomatic pivot, Israeli media disclosed. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a​ctively worked for a long period of time to promote the renewal of the relationship, also with the help of the Brazilian president and minister of foreign affairs, with whom I recently spoke on the subject at the UN Conference in New York.” Foreign Minister Katz said in a statement.

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported the restoration of bilateral relations:

Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric announced the renewal of diplomatic relations with Israel on Thursday for the first time in a decade.

The Foreign Ministry held intensive talks recently with Bolivia in an effort to re-establish the ties between the two countries, which were officially severed on January 14, 2009, following Operation Cast Lead – Israel’s 2008 military campaign against Palestinian terror factions in the Gaza Strip.

The rekindled relations were made possible after Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was hostile towards Israel, stepped down from office earlier this month and his administration was replaced by a pro-American interim government.

Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro were also reportedly involved in the talks with the new Bolivian administration.

The Israeli Foreign Minister welcomed the Bolivian decision. “I welcome the announcement of the government of Bolivia regarding its intent to re-establish diplomatic relations with the State of Israel, ” Foreign Minister Katz said. “This will contribute to the strengthening of the State of Israel’s foreign relations and its standing in the world.”

The restoration of ties with Bolivia also reflects Israel’s growing trade and diplomatic engagement with South America. Jerusalem now has full diplomatic relations with all the countries of Central and South America, except Cuba and Venezuela.  Earlier this year, the Israeli government established a $250 million investment fund to finance infrastructure projects in that region.

Israel’s diplomatic success in South America has rattled its foes, with Qatar-funded TV channel Al Jazeera complaining in a June 2018 article: “Why did Latin America stop standing up for Palestine?

When President Donald Trump announced the decision to formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem almost two years ago, the move was supported by many South American countries including  Paraguay, Honduras, and Guatemala. In May 2018, Guatemala opened an embassy in Jerusalem, shortly after the U.S. inaugurated its diplomatic mission in the Holy City. Brazilian President Bolsonaro has also spoken in favor of moving his embassy to Jerusalem. “As I promised during the campaign, we intend to move the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel is a sovereign country and we respect them,” the Brazilian leader declared just days after winning the 2018 presidential election.

With popular unrest calling for the ouster of Chavez’s successor and socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, similar developments can be expected in Venezuela as well.

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[Cover image via YouTube]


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