August 9, 2018 — New York
AJC is dismayed that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, just prior to leaving office, recognized a Palestinian state despite his commitment during his tenure not to do so.
“This gratuitous gesture, which does not advance peace one iota, is simply stunning for a Colombian leader who expanded ties to Israel, and the U.S., and is a Nobel Peace Laureate,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “A Palestinian state can only be achieved through direct negotiations with Israel. That Santos chose to give the gift of recognition at a time when PA President Abbas has totally abandoned the peace process, the West Bank and Gaza are under different leaderships, and Hamas again is aggressively threatening Israel with violence, is deeply troubling, not to say inexplicable.”
Santos’s recognition of Palestine came in a letter delivered to the Palestinian representative in Bogota a few days before the August 7 inauguration of President Ivan Duque. “In the name of the government of Colombia, President Santos has decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state,” said the letter.
The new Duque government has indicated that it will review the “implications” of the action by Santos.
AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization, has long maintained close relations with Colombia, met with Santos in Bogota and New York, and looks forward to meeting with President Duque.
“Anything that can be done by President Duque to diminish, if not abrogate, this regrettable Santos action will be a welcome gesture, and send a message about Colombia’s commitment to a negotiated solution between the two parties,” Harris said.