Colombian leader says world must recognize Israel as state of Jewish people

17 Oct 2012

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has said he would continue in his quest to end the armed conflict in his country through negotiations which are currently taking place in Oslo, Norway, but also through the strict application of laws in place. At a ceremony on Tuesday in Bogota, Santos was bestowed with the Shalom Prize of the Latin American chapter of the World Jewish Congress.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder and Latin American Jewish Congress President Jack Terpins were both present at the award ceremony (see picture). It was the first public appearance of the Colombian head of state since undergoing prostate surgery last week.

Santos praised the Jewish community for supporting him in the controversial decision to engage in talks with the rebel group FARC. “Both the people here and the people in Israel have been seeking peace for decades,” he declared. The president added that it was a privilege to be among people who shared his determination and vision for human rights, justice and understanding between countries. He said that Colombia support a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a two-state solution. However, a peace deal had to include the recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Read the transcript of President Santos' speech (in Spanish) here.