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Colombia to open Jerusalem trade office in nod to Israel’s sovereignty


Duka, who is due to arrive in Israel on Sunday for a three-day visit, will be present at the grand opening.

He first announced the opening of the Department of Commerce last year in the US-Israel Public Committee. This was seen as a partial victory of Israel’s campaign to push the international community to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, especially in light of the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem in 2018. Only three countries followed suit: Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo.

Most countries refuse to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, nor do they consider it part of the sovereign territory of Israel. As a result, most embassies in Israel are located in Tel Aviv, including that of Colombia. Equatorial Guinea and Malawi also pledged to open embassies in Jerusalem.

The Czech Republic and Hungary have taken a small step in the direction of recognizing Jerusalem by opening diplomatic offices in Jerusalem. Colombia will now follow in his footsteps.

A soldier dressed in a historical uniform hoists a Colombian flag at an event attended by President Ivan Duka to mark the 200th anniversary of the country’s first constitution, at Villa del Rosario, Colombia, October 6, 2021. (Credit: REUTERS / NATHALIA ANGARITA)

In a video interview with the American Jewish Committee last year, Duka spoke about his strong feelings for Israel.

“Colombia is Israel’s number one ally in Latin America,” Duka said.

The President of Colombia will be accompanied by six Ministers, including those in charge of Health, Agriculture, Environment, Transport, Trade and Security. The large delegation will also include entrepreneurs and members of the Jewish community in Colombia numbering less than 10,000 people.

Although Israel and Colombia formed relations shortly after the establishment of Israel, it was only in 2013 that the President of Colombia visited Israel, a position then held by Juan Manuel Santos.

Both men, the previous and current president, set their sights on Israel as a sign of the growing ties between the two countries and formalized a free trade agreement in 2020. This occurred simultaneously to Colombia’s recognition of Palestine as a state in 2018.

Israeli Ambassador to Colombia Christian Cantor stressed that Colombia is a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Colombia has a positive role to play in terms of ties between the Jewish state and Latin America, Cantor added.

Duka will arrive in Israel after a visit to the United Arab Emirates and will tour the Old City of Jerusalem.

While in Israel, Duka will meet with Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and participate in a number of economic events, with the aim of increasing bilateral ties. The six ministers will meet with their Israeli counterparts.


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