Venezuela – “Palestine’s Most Important Ally”

Venezuela’s support for Palestine is a salient feature of its foreign policy and the latest agreements between the two countries will only deepen this co-operation, writes MATT WILLGRESS for the Morning Star


Palestinian Authority foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki has been in Caracas for bilateral talks with Venezuela’s government this week, taking the opportunity to describe Venezuela as “Palestine’s most important ally,” adding that Venezuela “is a country that gives without asking for anything in return.”

At a press conference with her Palestinian counterpart, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez explained that Venezuela was “ready at any moment to throw itself into the battle for (Palestinian) independence and sovereignty.”

Additionally, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed a series of agreements.

Venezuelanalysis.com has reported that one of the new agreements signed between the two nations promotes the creation of a binational company dedicated to the production, retail and export of Palestinian-Venezuelan agricultural and pharmaceutical goods, as well as the creation of ecological farms.

Other agreements will increase joint investment in agro-industrial production as well as expanding established co-operation in the areas of education and healthcare, building on a number of agreements on co-operation since Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit last year.

“I say to Palestine that they will forever count on all of the solidarity of the people of Venezuela,” said President Maduro, before going on to praise the Palestinian struggle and its international significance, arguing that “the project of the Palestinian people does not exclude anyone, it doesn’t feel superior to anyone, it doesn’t make concentration camps again for anyone, (but) is about living and coexisting in peace.”

Maliki meanwhile welcomed the agreements as further steps towards strengthening the bonds between two peoples on the front line of imperialist aggression, saying: “We are marking a very important path in the bilateral relations between Venezuela and Palestine, a relation based not only on political support between both countries, but on exchange of the revolution.”

He also met Caracas’s popular socialist mayor Jorge Rodriguez with whom he signed an agreement designating the most populous Caracas municipality of el Libertador the sister city of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. This is symbolically tremendously important, as Israel has militarily occupied East Jerusalem since 1967 in direct contravention of international law.

These positions and initiatives in solidarity with Palestine reflect a proud tradition in Venezuela in recent years, where under the leadership of the late Hugo Chavez and his successor Maduro, Venezuela has emerged as one of the most vocal global voices for Palestine, regularly stating its opposition to Israeli occupation and aggression on the world stage, including at the UN and building ever closer diplomatic and cultural ties.

Last summer, during Israel’s assult on Gaza, Maduro condemned “Israel’s unjust, disproportionate and illegal military attack on the heroic Palestinian people,” adding that: “the Palestinian people have the right to live in their ancestral lands in peace … our international position over the issue of Palestine is just and follows the policy of Hugo Chavez.”

Indeed, Chavez cut diplomatic relations with Israel after its earlier war on Gaza and declared that the presidents of both Israel and the US should be tried at the International Criminal Court.

His stance was again emphasised in the aftermath of the massacre on board the Gaza-bound aid ship Mavi Marmara in 2010, when Chavez asserted that the attack was “an act of war undertaken by the Israeli army against defenceless civilians.”

Weeks before Israel’s attacks on Gaza last year, Maduro received Abbas, affirming that “the Palestinian cause is the world’s cause.”

A key reason for the visit was to establish PetroPalestina, an organisation aimed at securing the oil demands of the besieged Palestinian economy, and discussions were also held on the creation of a Palestinian centre of Mission Miracle, the health programme which provides free-of-charge laser surgery to restore the sight of those who can’t afford private treatment.

As the holder of the world’s largest oil reserves, with a repeatedly elected progressive government in power committed to national sovereignty and the redistribution of wealth, Venezuela has faced constant hostility from the US in recent years.

No doubt Venezuela’s stance on Palestine is another reason for this hostility —another reason then to step up our solidarity with Venezuela against US sanctions and all external intervention.

  • The Morning Star is supporting the Rally for Venezuela — End the US Sanctions, No More Intervention! organised by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign on June 4 at 6.30pm at Hamilton House (NUT HQ), London WC1. Speakers include Ben Chacko, editor of the Morning Star, Kate Hudson (CND), Jeremy Corbyn MP, Richard Burgon MP, Neil Findlay MSP, Lindsey German (Stop the War Coalition), Sandra White MSP and leading international guests from Venezuela, Latin America and the US. You can register online at www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk.
  • From http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2639-Investing-today-in-an-equitable-future#.VWxW3EY8UlI