At U.S. Request, Israel to Recognize Venezuelan Opposition as Official Leadership

Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro rejected an international ultimatum to call elections within eight days and said Guaido had violated the country's constitution by declaring himself leader

Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido, January 23, 2019.
\ CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS/ REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel will follow the United States, Canada and most Latin American and European countries in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's official leadership, following a U.S. request.

Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro rejected an international ultimatum to call elections within eight days and said Guaido had violated the country's constitution by declaring himself leader.

Maduro, in an interview with CNN Turk aired on Sunday, also said he was open to dialogue and that meeting U.S. President Donald Trump was improbable but not impossible. The broadcaster dubbed the interview from Spanish into Turkish.

>> What's behind Turkey's fervent support for Venezuela's Maduro | Explained

Israel has not had a representation in Venezuela for over a decade, since Hugo Chavez broke diplomatic ties over Israel's 2009 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. 

Washington, which has recognised Guaido as leader, had on Saturday urged the world to "pick a side" on Venezuela and financially disconnect from Maduro's government.

Venezuela has sunk into turmoil under Maduro with food shortages and protests amid an economic and political crisis that has sparked mass emigration and inflation that is seen rising to 10 million percent this year.

Britain, Germany, France and Spain all said they would recognize Guaido if Maduro failed to call fresh elections within eight days, an ultimatum Russia said was "absurd" and the Venezuelan foreign minister called "childlike."

Washington, Canada most Latin American nations and many European states have labelled Maduro's second-term election win last May fraudulent.

Maduro retains the loyalty of the armed forces, though Venezuela's top military envoy to the United States on Saturday defected to Guaido.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had voiced his support for Maduro in a phone call on Thursday.