Colombia has not expelled Israeli ambassador

By: John Faerseth
November 2 2023

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Colombia has not expelled Israeli ambassador

Source: Facebook (Screenshot modified by Logically facts)


The Verdict False

Colombia has not expelled the Israeli ambassador. The statement from the foreign minister referenced a spat between the ambassador and Petro.

Claim ID 7fe1bd7e


A widely-shared post on Facebook claims that Colombia has ejected Israel’s ambassador from the country, stating, “We do not support genocide.” The post adds that “Colombian president Gustavo Petro has just become the new leader of the free and civilized world.”

Claims that Colombia has expelled the ambassador have also been shared on X, with the added claim that President Petro told the ambassador to "apologize and leave the country” and said, “If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we will suspend them. We do not support genocides. The president of Colombia will not be insulted.”

In fact

After the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, Colombian President Gustavo Petro posted repeatedly on X. Among other things, he condemned a statement of Israeli Prime Minister Yoav Gallant on October 9, where Gallant said Israel was battling "beastly people." 

According to Reuters, Petro wrote: “This is what the Nazis said about the Jews. Democratic societies cannot allow Nazism to reestablish itself in international politics," and added that hateful speech could lead to "a holocaust." He also criticized Israel’s blockade and bombing of Gaza, comparing Gaza to the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Warsaw Ghetto, which was destroyed by the German army in 1943 after an uprising by Jews confined there. 

However, Colombia's foreign ministry also issued a statement after the October 7 assault, condemning the attacks against civilians in Israel and expressing solidarity with the victims. 

On October 15, the Israeli foreign ministry announced that Israel would suspend its security exports to Colombia, calling Petro’s remarks “hostile and antisemitic.” The message was also posted on X by the Israeli ambassador to Colombia, Gali Dagan. 

The president’s remarks provoked a heated exchange with Dagan. Petro responded on X, “If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we suspend them. We do not support genocide.”

On October 16, foreign minister Álvaro Leyva wrote on X that the Israeli ambassador had shown “senseless arrogance” towards President Petro and that he should, at the very least, ”apologize and leave.”

Later the same day, Leyva clarified his comments, writing in a new X post, “Let it be understood. I have not said that the Israeli ambassador is expelled.” He reiterated, however, that Petro should be spoken to with respect. In another post, Leyva wrote that relations with Israel would be “maintained if this country wishes to” and that respectful relations between countries would always be welcome. 

On October 19, Petro wrote on X that he had met with both Dagan and the Palestinian ambassador to Colombia.

Colombia has had a close relationship with Israel, having bought Israeli military security and hardware for decades. It was the last country in Latin America to recognize the state of Palestine in 2018. Relations chilled after Petro took office in August 2022; the first leftist president in Colombia's history. 

The verdict

The Israeli ambassador has not been expelled from Colombia. While the quotations in the posts are correct, foreign minister Álvaro Leyva’s statement that the ambassador should “at least ask for forgiveness and leave” referred to the spat between the president and the ambassador and the ambassador’s perceived rudeness towards the president and not to the current conflict in Gaza. We have therefore rated this as false.

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