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Venezuela’s Guaido says he’s working to restore ties with Israel

Thousands participate in a march against the government of the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, convened by the head of the Venezuelan Parliament, Juan Guaido, who on 23 January 2019 proclaimed himself interim president, in Caracas, Venezuela, 12 February 2019. The opposition claims, among other things, the entry of humanitarian aid that is already collected in the Colombian city of Cucuta, which will serve to alleviate the severe crisis that the country is going through as well as demanding that Maduro abandon power, they say 'usurp' so that a transitional government can be installed to call for free elections, as they demanded since 10 January 2019 when the President swore a new mandate of six years, which is not recognized by much of the international community. EPA-EFE/MIGUEL GUTIERREZ

Juan Guaido, Venezuela's self-declared president, has said he's working to restore ties with Israel, a decade after the country severed relations with Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Guaido told Israeli newspaper Hayom daily on Tuesday: “I am very happy to report that the process of stabilising relations with Israel is at its height”.

“First we’ll restore the relations, then we’ll announce the appointment of an ambassador to Israel, and we very much hope an envoy will come here from Israel,” he said.

Guaido, who is backed by the United States, also said he was weighing whether to relocate Venezuela’s embassy to Jerusalem.

“I will declare the resumption of ties and the site of the embassy at the proper time,” he said.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the biggest obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem recognised as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, including the eastern sector that it annexed in 1967 in violation of international law. ‘Mossad are trying to kill me’

Last month, Israel joined the United States, the UK and a host of European countries in recognising Guaido as the interim president.

However President Nicolas Maduro, who won elections in 2018 with

67.7 percent of the vote,  retains the support of state institutions including the military and  Russia and China.

Guaido’s embassy announcement could mark a sharp shift in Venezuelan foreign policy, which has traditionally backed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Under Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor, Venezuela cut ties with Israel over its actions in the 2008-2009 war in Gaza.

The 22-day land, naval and air bombardment saw more than 1,400 Palestinians killed, thousands injured, and massive damage to infrastructure, including homes, factories and schools.

At a rally in 2010 , Chavez also alleged that Israel was “financing the Venezuelan opposition” against him.

“There are even groups of Israeli terrorists, of the Mossad, who are after me trying to kill me,” he said.

Guaido has vowed that the opposition, which he has regalvanised after several years of infighting, would keep protesting against Maduro so new presidential elections could be held.

The opposition has been holding regular protests against Maduro and on Tuesday held a vigil demanding aid be let in.

Maduro’s government insists aid is not needed and that in reality, the US is trying to get its hands on Venezuela’s abundant oil reserves, replicating the US’s military interventions in Iraq and Libya.

In a separate development on Tuesday, Russia said it was ready to help resolve Venezuela’s crisis but warned the US against intervening in Caracas’ internal affairs. DM

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