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February 4, 2020 3:16 pm

For First Time Since Relations Were Severed in 2009, Israeli Delegation Visits Bolivia, Meets President

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

An Israeli delegation meets with Bolivia’s interim President Jeanine Áñez and head of the Foreign Affairs Ministry Karen Longaric in La Paz. Photo: Twitter screenshot.

For the first time since Bolivia cut off relations with Israel in 2009, an Israeli diplomatic delegation arrived in the country for talks with the Bolivian president and other top officials.

Shimon Arann, the political and diplomatic correspondent for Israeli public broadcaster Kan’s Arabic news service, tweeted that the delegation met on Tuesday in La Paz with interim President Jeanine Áñez and head of the Foreign Affairs Ministry Karen Longaric Rodríguez, along with others, to discuss mutual relations and cooperation between the two countries on several issues, as well as on easing travel for young Israeli tourists, who often visit the South American country.

The news site Walla reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said of the meeting, “I welcome the visit by the first official delegation to Bolivia and the collaboration that was agreed upon during the visit.”

“The renewal of relations with Bolivia will contribute to the strengthening of the State of Israel’s foreign relations and its standing in the world,” he added.

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The visit followed a major thaw in relations between Israel and Bolivia, which were ended in 2009 after Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. Then-President Evo Morales, an ally of the late far-left Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, was staunchly anti-Israel and in 2014 referred to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

Following mass protests against a 2019 election that was widely regarded as fraudulent, Morales resigned and fled the country, first to Mexico and then Argentina. Criminal charges are currently pending against him.

Last November, Bolivia reestablished relations with Israel and the first diplomatic meeting took place on Monday between Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon and his Bolivian counterpart Reuben Suarez in New York.

According to Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, Danon and Suarez discussed opening a Bolivian embassy in Israel, partnering on water and agricultural technology projects and bringin Israeli tourists to Bolivia.

“Israel is returning to Bolivia and Bolivia is returning to Israel,” Danon said. “The renewal of relations between the countries is a blessing for both peoples. Many collaborations are already underway and alongside them is a real friendship that will strengthen Israel’s position in South America.”

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