Caracas: Venezuela’s self-appointed interim leader, Juan Guaido, said he is working to restore ties with Israel a decade after the country severed relations with the Jewish State in solidarity with the Palestinians, according to a Reuters report.
In an exclusive interview with Israel Hayom newspaper, Guaido said: “I am very happy to report that the process of stabilising relations with Israel is at its height,” adding, “First we’ll restore the relations, then we’ll announce the appointment of an ambassador to Israel, and we very much hope an envoy will come here from Israel.”
Guaido said he was also mulling relocating Venezuela’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “I will declare the resumption of ties and the site of the embassy at the proper time,” he explained.
The announcement earned immediate praise from United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who hailed the Jewish State for “standing with the people of Venezuela and the forces of freedom and democracy.”
Last month, Israel became one among countries including U.S., Canada, and other nations in South America and Europe who recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader. In a carefully worded statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in a video, saying, “Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela.”
Guaido’s comments mark a major departure from Venezuelan foreign policy so far. Socialist President Nicolas Maduro, against whom Guaido is leading a rebellion, is a vociferous critic of Israel. Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s former president, broke off ties with the Jewish State over its 2008-2009 war in Gaza and fostered ties with the Palestinians, as well as with Israel’s arch-enemy Iran.
Addressing the Jewish community’s reluctance to publicly endorse him, Guaido noted: “I have no doubt the Jews are afraid. Many in the military are similarly afraid to voice their opinion. This regime has no respect for the most basic right: the right to live.”
“Many Western countries have promised to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela. I’m sure Israel will also help us.”