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  • Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki. (Photo: Reuters)

    Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki. (Photo: Reuters) | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 December 2014

The Palestinian mission welcomes the move, but top official pushes for even greater recognition.

Colombia has upgraded Palestine’s diplomatic presence in the country from “Special Mission” to “Diplomatic Mission,” in a move welcomed by the Palestinian foreign affairs minister.

It is the latest example of support for the Middle Eastern nation in Latin America.

The upgrade, announced Dec. 5 and formalized the following day with a ceremony attended by the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki means the Middle Eastern nation’s mission is now one grade below a full embassy.

While the Palestine mission welcomed the upgrade, Maliki outlined his hope for greater recognition

“Palestine deserves to be recognized as a people and as an independent state,” El Colombiano reported Maliki as saying.

Britain, Spain, France, Ireland and Sweden have all taken steps towards formally recognizing Palestine as an independent state this year, with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon publicly declaring in November that he expected more momentum to build for similar actions among other nations.

Colombia’s upgrade of the Palestinian mission follows a pattern of support shown towards the country throughout Latin America this year, driven by the brutal assault carried out on the Palestinian territory of Gaza by Israel earlier this year.

El Salvador, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador all withdrew their ambassadors to Israel during the conflict, while Venezuela and Bolivia – which have severed or limited ties with Israel – were vocal critics of the assault.

Venezuela subsequently provided hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to Palestine, as well as providing housing for Palestinian orphans, and receiving hundreds of Palestinian medical students for free education in the country.

The support shown for Palestine from Latin American nations drew a public thank you from the Palestinian National Council.

Despite the decision to upgrade the Palestine diplomatic office in the country, Colombia maintains some of the closest relations with Israel among Latin American nations, with significant technological cooperation between the two countries. Colombia has purchased military hardware such as planes, drones and weaponry from Israel, which also provides the South American country with significant technological assistance.

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