Latin American countries protest Israel, remove diplomats

They followed recalls last week by Brazil and Ecuador.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  July 31, 2014 at 3:52 PM
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SANTIAGO , Chile, July 31 (UPI) -- Chile, El Salvador and Peru each recalled its ambassador from Israel in protest of escalating Israeli military operations in Gaza.

The recalls Wednesday followed similar actions last week by Brazil and Ecuador, with Costa Rica and Uruguay considering a recall of their ambassadors as well.

Bolivia, which since 2009 has had no diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, branded Israel a "terrorist state" and ended a visa exemption, in place since 1972, between the countries.

In Caracas, Venezuela, five of the six nations at the Mercosur economic summit issued a declaration condemning Israel's "disproportionate use of force" in Gaza and called for an immediate cease-fire. Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and Bolivia signed the agreement; Paraguay did not.

A statement from Israel's Foreign Ministry Wednesday said, "Israel expects countries who oppose terrorism to act responsibly and not to hand terrorists a prize. El Salvador, Chile and Peru would have been much better advised to promote the international move intended to assist Israel in its efforts to defend innocent civilians and instate a durable cease-fire with the demilitarization of Gaza."

An Israeli spokesman referred to Brazil as a "diplomatic dwarf" after the recall last week.

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