Chavez calls Israel's offensive a Palestinian 'holocaust', says presidents of Israel and US should be tried in international court. Foreign Ministry: Venezuela must choose between those who fight terror, those who support it
Ynetnews.com, News agencies, Jan. 6, 2009
Venezuela's government is expelling the Israeli ambassador and all embassy personnel in response to Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
The OPEC nation's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that Israel's campaign constituted "flagrant violations of International Law" and the use of "state terrorism."
"For the reasons mentioned above, the government of Venezuela has decided to expel the ambassador of Israel and part of the personnel of the Embassy of Israel," the statement said.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned Venezuela following its decision. "Israel will continue to defend itself before its enemies including Hamas and Iran, with which Venezuela has created strong ties," a ministry statement said.
"Venezuela needs to choose which side it is taking in this war. It must choose between those who fight terror and those who support it. It's not surprising that Venezuela is once more clarifying to the world which side it is on."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has condemned the Israeli campaign in Gaza, where more than 600 Palestinians have been killed in ground and air strikes.
Chavez on Tuesday called Israel's offensive a Palestinian "holocaust" and said the presidents of Israel and the United States should be tried in international court.
"The Holocaust, that is what is happening right now in Gaza," Chavez said in televised comments. "The president of Israel at this moment should be taken to the International Criminal Court together with the president of the United States."
The socialist Chavez, a harsh critic of Israel and the US, on Monday had accused Washington of poisoning the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to destabilize the Middle East and justify US-backed Israeli incursions.
In 2006, Chavez threatened to break ties with Israel over its military campaign in Lebanon in a war of words that led both nations to withdraw their envoys.
Chavez, a frequent critic of the US and its allies, said Venezuela also is trying to supply food and medical aid to Gaza.
Reuters, The Associated Press and Roni Sofer contributed to this report