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Colombia joins most South American countries, recognises Palestinian statehood Open in fullscreen

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Colombia joins most South American countries, recognises Palestinian statehood

Colombia's outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos (L) with his Palestinian counterpart [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 August, 2018

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The South American nation had been only one of two nations in the region that had not yet recognised Palestine as an independent state.

Colombia recognised Palestine as a sovereign state on Wednesday, just days before President Ivan Duque is set to take office.

"I would like to inform you that in the name of the government of Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos has decided to recognise Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state," said a letter from the foreign ministry that was made public. 

Colombia had been one of only two countries in the region, along with Panama, not to recognise Palestinian statehood

The incoming Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said he would review the "implications" of the previous government's decision, in accordance with international law and good diplomatic practice.

"It is a priority for this government to maintain cooperative relations with its allies and friends, and to contribute to international peace and security," Holmes said.

Bogota, an ally of the United States, has historically maintained close ties with Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had been scheduled to arrive in Colombia on Monday but called off the trip at the last minute, saying he needed to focus on developments along his country's border with the Gaza Strip.

It is not immediately clear if the recognition of Palestinian statehood played any factor in Netanyahu's cancellation. 

The Palestinian mission in Bogota told AFP they were told of the decision last Friday. It welcomed the move by Bogota as evidence of "profound efforts to reach a rapprochement".

On Wednesday, Israel launched air strikes on Gaza late in the day, killing one Hamas militant.

At least 158 Palestinians have died and thousands injured since Gazans launched weekly protests along the separation fence on 30 March demanding for the right of return for refugees. 

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