La Paz (AFP) - Bolivia on Wednesday renounced a visa exemption agreement with Israel in protest over its offensive in Gaza, and declared it a terrorist state.
President Evo Morales announced the move during a talk with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba.
It “means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state,” he said.
The treaty has allowed Israelis to travel freely to Bolivia without a visa since 1972.
Morales said the Gaza offensive shows “that Israel is not a guarantor of the principles of respect for life and the elementary precepts of rights that govern the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of our international community.”
More than two weeks of fighting in Gaza have left 1,300 dead and 6,000 wounded amid an intense Israeli air and ground campaign in response to missile attacks by the Islamist militant group Hamas.
In the latest development, 20 people were killed after two Israeli shells slammed into a United Nations school, drawing international protests.
Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009 over a previous military operation in Gaza.
In mid-July, Morales filed a request with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prosecute Israel for “crimes against humanity.”
Photos: Bolivian ambassador to the UN Sacha Llorenti wears keffiyeh in solidarity with Palestinians, July 2014.
Lana Del Rey for Rolling Stone Magazine
The two Latin American nations join Brazil and Ecuador, who announced last week they were recalling envoys to Israel in protest at the Gaza war.
The war in Gaza has led to a serious crisis in Israel’s relations with Latin America. The foreign ministries of Chile and Peru have announced they are calling their ambassadors in Tel Aviv in consultation to protest Israel’s operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The moves comes on the heels of Brazil and Ecuador, who announced last week that they were recalling their envoys.
"Given the escalation of Israeli military operations in Gaza, the Government of Chile, in coordination with others in our region, has decided to call in consultation Santiago Ambassador of Chile in Tel Aviv, Jorge Montero," the Chilean foreign ministry in Santiago said in a statement.
"Chile notes with great concern and dismay that such military operations, which at this stage of development are subject to a collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza do not respect fundamental rules of international humanitarian law."
The Chilean foreign ministry emphasized the more than 1,000 Palestinians killed, including women and children during Operation Protective Edge, which continued for a 22nd day on Tuesday. The statement also noted Israel’s attacks “on schools and hospitals.”
The statement condemned rocket fire by Hamas against civilians in Israel, but said that “the scale and intensity of Israeli operations in Gaza violate the principle of proportionality in the use of force, an essential requirement to justify self-defense.” The statement also called “for an immediate end of hostilities” in Gaza.
In Lima, the Peruvian foreign ministry published a similar statement condemning Israel’s operation in Gaza.
(Photo Credit: Reuters | Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet waves as she leaves the Itamaraty Palce after the 6th BRICS summit and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), in Brasilia July 16, 2014)
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