Last update - 19:36 14/01/2009
Bolivia cuts ties with Israel, seeks genocide charges against Israeli officials
Tags: gaza, hamas, bolivia
Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Wednesday that his country is breaking diplomatic ties with Israel over its 19-day-old campaign in Gaza, and said he will ask the International Criminal Court to bring genocide charges against top Israeli officials.
Bolivia had diplomatic relations with Israel. [But] considering these grave attacks against...humanity, Bolivia will stop having diplomatic relations with Israel," Morales said in a speech before diplomats in the government palace.
"We haven't received official confirmation from the Bolivian government," the Israeli consul in La Paz, Roberto Nelkenbaum, told Reuters by telephone.
The diplomat said he was "surprised and sad" after hearing Morales' comments in local media and that the two countries have had good diplomatic relations for more than 50 years.
Israel launched the offensive in Gaza on Dec. 27, seeking to force the ruling Hamas militant group to stop rocket attacks on southern Israel.
Morales, a leftist, is a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who on Jan. 6 expelled Israel's ambassador in protest over the operation in Gaza.
Morales told the country's diplomatic corps that the Israeli attack seriously threatened world peace and he called for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cabinet to face criminal charges.
Morales chided the United Nations' "Insecurity Council" for its lukewarm response to the crisis and said the UN General Assembly should condemn the invasion.
He also said President Shimon Peres should be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize for failing to stop the invasion.
Morales and Chavez have worked to cultivate ties to Iran, which supports
Hamas. Morales met Tuesday with visiting Iranian officials, who gave him a letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thanking Morales for his previously voicing supporting for the Palestinians.