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Colombia will suspend coal exports to Israel due to the war in Gaza

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombian president Gustavo Petro announced on Saturday that his country will suspend coal exports to Israel during the month war in Gaza, as relations deteriorate between two countries that were once close military and commercial allies.

Petro wrote on social media platform X that coal exports will only resume “when the genocide” in Gaza stops. Petro also posted a draft decree, stating that coal exports will only resume if Israel complies with a recent decision order of the International Court of Justice stating that Israel must withdraw its troops from the Gaza Strip.

According to Colombia’s National Bureau of Statistics, coal exports to Israel were worth more than $320 million in the first eight months of last year. That’s a tiny fraction of the country’s total coal exports, which were worth more than $9 billion in 2023.

According to the American Journal for Transportation, Israel imports more than 50% of its coal from Colombia and uses much of it to fuel its power plants.

Petro, who was elected president of Colombia in 2022 as Colombia’s first left-wing president, cut diplomatic ties with Israel in May, saying he could not maintain relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “genocidal” government.

Both governments have continued to maintain consulates and trade in each other’s territories.

Colombia has long been dependent on Israel for military hardware, including assault rifles and intelligence equipment. The South American country has also purchased more than 30 fighter jets from Israel over the past three decades and depends on Israeli companies for their maintenance.

However, new military purchases have been halted as relations between the two countries deteriorate. Petro’s critics have said the president’s decision to cut ties with Israel endangers Colombia’s security capabilities as the military battles drug cartels and rebel groups in rural parts of the country.

Unlike previous Colombian presidents, who maintained strong ties with Israel, Petro was an outspoken critic of the Middle Eastern nation, initially refusing to condemn the Hamas attack that preceded Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

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