Venezuela under Acting President Juan Guaidó’s wants to set up an embassy in Jerusalem, its ambassador to Israel Rabbi Pynchas Brener told The Jerusalem Post on Monday, as members of Guaidó’s party and others formed a pro-Israel caucus in the Venezuelan national assembly.
The Venezuelan Parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus held its inaugural meeting on Monday as a part of the Israeli Allies Foundation’s faith-based diplomacy network of 43 legislative caucuses around the world. The caucus has 20 members from a range of political parties, who signed a declaration that called to reestablish ties between Venezuela and Israel and for an embassy to be opened in Jerusalem.
Venezuela also plans to launch a website next week that is meant to serve as a virtual embassy to Israel.
The move came amid the continuing political turmoil in Venezuela, with both Guaidó and Nicolas Maduro claiming the presidency since January 2019. More than 50 countries recognize Guaidó, while 20 recognize Maduro, who became president in 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez.
Venezuela broke off diplomatic ties with Israel in 2009, and Guaidó has sought to restore them. Israel recognized Guaidó as president in January 2019, and his appointee, Brener, as ambassador in August of that year; though the countries have yet to officially reestablish ties, and Brener is based in Miami.
Restored ties with Israel are important to Venezuela, said Brener, who worked as a rabbi in the South American country for 44 years.
“We realize the pandemic is issue number one all over the world and we cannot attend to other matters; however, we are trying to gain a presence in Israel and bring attention to Venezuela,” he said.
Once Guaidó’s government is able to have a physical presence in Israel, “our desire is to establish the embassy in Jerusalem, just like the US – why not? We are gunning for that,” Brener said.
In the interim, Brener will inaugurate the embassy website next week.
One of the major reasons for promoting ties is the “common danger” of Iran to both countries, the ambassador said.
“For Israel, right now, the greatest menace is Iran... they are the ones threatening to erase Israel off the map,” Brener stated. “Iran has a major presence in Venezuela, supplying us with gasoline.”
Brener explained that, like in many other countries, Venezuela has stopped all flights from abroad. However, he said, there have been 17-18 Mahan Air flights in the last six weeks.
“Word is, they’re establishing not on a center for action in all of Latin America, but also to threaten the US. Who knows what they’re bringing with them – in addition to gasoline,” he said.
The ambassador expressed hope Israel could help Venezuela on other matters of national security, as well, such as fighting terrorism.
“Venezuelans can’t solve the problem by ourselves,” Brener said. “We will need input from Israeli security on how to manage the groups that are armed to the teeth all over Venezuela.”
“Venezuela was an established democracy for 40 years until it fell into the hands of a violent group,” he lamented. “Venezuela basically became a colony of Cuba without one bullet being expended.”
Brener also said that many in Venezuela have “philosophical ties with Israel. We believe in freedom and human rights.”
The ambassador touted his country’s historic ties to Israel, before they were cut off in 2009, saying Venezuela was one of the first to recognize Israel and originally had its embassy in Jerusalem. He said the Vatican influenced Venezuela to move its embassy out of the capital.
Ahead of the Israel Allies Caucus launch, Congressman Omar Gonzalez Moreno of the right-wing Vente Party, who serves as one of the leaders of the new caucus, said his faction “considers strategic relations with Israel a priority.”
The other co-chair, Congressman Lawrence Castro, is from Guaidó’s party, and said that he is “eager to... continue in this honorable mission to revitalize the relationship between Venezuela and Israel.”
In 2019, Guaidó’s Foreign Minister Julio Borges visited Israel to attend an Israel Allies Foundation conference.
Last week, the Vente Party signed an agreement with Likud “to cooperate on political ideological and social matters, as well as advancing cooperation on issues related to strategy, geopolitics and security, among others in order to create an operational partnership.”
The agreement said the parties aim to bring the people of their countries together and promote the values of freedom, liberty and a market economy.
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