Israeli Foreign Ministry Says 'Surprised' by Colombia's Recognition of Palestine

The ministry took 16 hours to react to an apparently unexpected decision announced to the Palestinian embassy in Bogota amid a power handover to Colombia's new president

Colombia's new president, Ivan Duque, greets outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota, Colombia, August 7, 2018.

The Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that it was surprised by Colombia's decision to recognize Palestinian statehood.

"We are surprised by the report in the media and are waiting for explanations from the new administration which is checking into the subject," the Foreign Ministry said.

The statement was released 16 hours after the Palestinian embassy in Bogota said it was "pleased to announce that the Republic of Colombia has decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state."

Following the announcement Wednesday night, the Israeli embassy in Colombia said it was "very surprised and disillusioned" by the decision.

The Palestinian news agency WAFA said outgoing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos had announced the news in a letter to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki. Colombia's new president, Ivan Duque, who took office on Tuesday, confirmed Santos' decision.

The Palestinian Authority, however, said it fears that if Colombia's incoming government, headed by Duque, decides to renege on the decision, other countries in Latin America and Central Europe who have recognized Palestine may change their policies as well.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was slated to fly to Colombia, but canceled his diplomatic visit to Bogota at the last minute last week, citing escalating tensions with Gaza.