Colombian President Says Recognition of Palestine 'Irreversible'

Ivan Duque announces that cannot overturn predecessor's decision because president has constitutional authority to manage foreign relations

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Colombian President Ivan Duque speaks after voting during a popular consultation on measures including cutting congressional salaries and boosting sentences for corruption, in Bogota on August 26, 2018.
Colombian President Ivan Duque speaks after voting during a popular consultation on measures, in Bogota on August 26, 2018.Credit: AFP

Colombian President Ivan Duque said Monday that his predecessor's decision to recognize a Palestinian state was "irreversible."

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"This decision is irreversible," he said in a radio interview, "first of all because the president of the republic is the person designated by the constitution to mange foreign relations."

Duque said that he would have been happy to discuss the issue in the country's Foreign Affairs Advisory Committee, but that he respects the decisions his predecessor made during his tenure.

The Colombian president asserted that he believes the two-state solution is the best one. "Since the Oslo Accords, I always believed the solution for the Middle East is the two-state solution," he said. "This would help a lot. But obviously, the discussion has become more difficult every time because of the presence of Hamas in the Gaza Strip."

"What we, the international community, should not do is be part of the problem, instead, we must be part of the solution. The solution is to form lasting peace, stability, and that the two-state solution will move forward," he said.

Colombia said last month that it was recognizing Palestine as a sovereign state

Palestinian news agency WAFA said the outgoing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos handed a letter to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki saying that Colombia "decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state."

Israel's Foreign Ministry said it was surprised by the decision. "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 ministry said.