Maduro Government Strengthens Support for Palestine

Timothy Gill

In a public event with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki in the Plaza Bolivar, Minister of Foreign Relations Elias Jaua said “the cause of the Palestinian people is the cause of the Venezuelan people itself.” He mentioned late president Hugo Chávez’s support for Palestine and concluded “today we are one people, one people united by the human cause, the cause of peace, the cause of life.”

Such robust manifestations of support for Palestine have become common since the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) began its offensive in Gaza on July 7. The Maduro government has received Palestinian leaders, collected material donations for Palestinian citizens, denounced Israeli actions action Palestine before the United Nations (UN), and provided humanitarian aid to Gaza. Venezuelan leaders have also consistently called for an immediate end to the conflict.

Al-Maliki arrived in Venezuela on August 12 “to discuss issues of foreign policy and to promote international help in demanding an immediate end to Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people.” Al-Maliki stated that Venezuela “has demonstrated that it is the brother of the Palestinian people.”

On the same day, Venezuela sent twelve tons of humanitarian supplies to Gaza, including medicine, nonperishable food, clothing, and wheelchairs, and plans to send fifteen tons more in the next 48 hours. The Venezuelan government collected supplies at the Casa Amarilla (Ministry of Foreign Relations) for over a week, receiving assistance from the Kuwaiti and Malaysian embassies. 

In weeks prior, Venezuelan leaders have continually called on international bodies to help end the Israel-Gaza conflict and open investigations into Israeli human rights violations.

On July 11, President Nicolás Maduro condemned Israeli attacks on Palestine and stated that the attacks were a continuation of a “war of extermination” against Palestinian citizens. He also called for “a grand march” against Israeli aggression and announced that the Venezuelan government would create a shelter named after former President Hugo Chávez for nine Palestinian children that have lost their parents in the conflict. Following their arrival, Maduro stated that the government will look for adoptive parents for the children.

On July 22, Samuel Moncada, the Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the UN, condemned Israeli attacks as well as the political and economic blockade of Palestine. On the following day, Jorge Valera, the Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN, announced his intention to create an independent UN commission that would investigate serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The UN has since created a panel that will investigate the possibility of war crimes and human rights violations on both sides of the conflict and report its findings to the UN Human Rights Council by March 2015.

On August 4, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua asked the Non-Aligned Movement to press the UN Security Council to devise a resolution that would end the Israel-Gaza conflict and called on the US not to veto such a resolution.

Venezuela cut all diplomatic ties with Israel and established diplomatic relations with the State of Palestine in 2009. Since this time, Venezuela and Palestine have signed 18 agreements. In May, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with President Maduro in Venezuela, where the two leaders signed agreements involving provision of diesel fuel and the construction of a free eye clinic in the West Bank.