Colombia recognizes Palestine as a sovereign state, the Palestinian embassy in Bogota announced Wednesday night. "The Palestinian embassy is pleased to announce that the Republic of Colombia has decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state," an official letter said. The letter was addressed to the Palestinian embassy by Colombia's foreign ministry.
The Israeli embassy in Colombia responded on Thursday, saying it was very suprised and disillusioned by Colombia's decision to recognize Palestine as a state. "We must wait for a friendly government," it said, adding that it "solicits the government to revert its decision."
The Palestinian Authority said it fears that if Colombia's incoming government, headed by the new president Ivan Duque, decides to take back the decision, other countries in Latin America and Central Europe who have already recognized Palestine may change their policies in a snowball effect.
Palestinian news agency WAFA said the outgoing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos handed the letter to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki.
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In Santos' final days in office, his government's decision to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state - a fact that minimizes the significance of the diplomatic move - is in light of the fact that his successor Duque is likely to emerge as an ally of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Duque, a former senator from the right-wing Democratic center party, defeated a former guerrilla member, Gustavo Petro.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a diplomatic visit to Bogota at the last minute last week, citing escalating tensions with Gaza.
The premier canceled his trip over progress that was made at the time in talks regarding an emerging Israel-Hamas deal, which has since been cast into doubt amid tensions along the Gaza border.
More than 100 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza on Wednesday, and the Israeli military responded by striking multiple targets in the Strip, killing three Palestinian.
Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with the presidents of Argentina, Guatemala, Chile and Honduras. The premier's most recent visit to Latin America was in September in 2017, when he visited Argentina.
Reuters contributed to this report.