Global South countries have begun severing formal ties with Israel and pulling their ambassadors after three weeks of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, and now days into a ground operation. The death toll among mostly Palestinian civilians has surpassed 8,700 – causing Bolivia to be among the latest to cut official ties.
Bolivia “decided to break diplomatic relations with the Israeli state in repudiation and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive taking place in the Gaza Strip,” a foreign ministry statement said.
“We demand an end to the attacks” in the Gaza Strip “which have so far caused thousands of civilian deaths and the forced displacement of Palestinians,” Minister of the Presidency Maria Nela Prada told a press conference, and announced new humanitarian aid to Gazans is being readied.
But quickly following this Israel lashed out, charging the South American country with “capitulation to terrorism and to the ayatollah regime in Iran.” Of course, Hamas welcomed the move.
Bolivia’s neighbors Chile and Colombia have also recalled their ambassadors while condemning what they called a military campaign of ethnic cleansing aimed at Palestinians.
“I have decided to recall our ambassador to Israel for consultation. If Israel does not stop the massacre of the Palestinian people, we cannot be there,” Colombian President Gustavo Petro said in a social media post.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric also accused Israel of “unacceptable violations of International Humanitarian Law” which is based on “collective punishment” the population. Chile, it should be noted, has a huge Palestinian population – as do some other Latin American countries.
Though not having formal relations, others with leftist autocrats condemned Israel as well, notably Cuba and Venezuela – both condemning “genocide” against Palestinians. Also, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had used similar language last week. Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel has even blasted Washington as “the historical accomplice of Zionist barbarism.”
But most important for Israel in terms maintaining stable allies in the Mideast region, is fresh reaction from Jordan, which made formal peace with Israel in the mid-1990s:
In a sign of increasing alarm over the war among Arab countries, Jordan on Wednesday recalled its ambassador from Israel and told Israel’s ambassador to remain out of the country. Jordan, a key U.S. ally, signed a peace deal with Israel in 1994, the second Arab country after Egypt to do so.
Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ayman al-Safadi, who is also the foreign minister, said the return of the ambassadors is linked to Israel “stopping its war on Gaza … and the humanitarian catastrophe it is causing.” He warned of the potential of the conflict to spread, threatening “the security of the entire region.”
Jordan’s internal stability has long hinged on its stance toward the Palestinians, given the bulk of its population is actually made up of Palestinian refugees, many which go back to the very era of Israel’s founding.
Diplomatic escalation:#Jordan withdraws its ambassador from #Israel with immediate effect and informs Israel that it will not allow an Israeli ambassador to return or be reinstated in the Jordanian capital Amman. https://t.co/p8drjpjgVo
— Sami Hamdi سامي الهاشمي الحامدي (@SALHACHIMI) November 1, 2023
Israel legitimately fears the scenario of a domino effect where country after country might sever ties or at least create diplomatic distance. Pro-Palestinian activists, among them the the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, have long sought to get Israel labeled an “apartheid state”. Israel has in response focused on a global lobbying campaign to prevent the movement from gaining traction in various countries.