Colombia to Ban Coal Sales to Israel to Seek War’s End

Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Oct. 3, 2022, in Bogota, Colombia. (Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images/TNS)

(Bloomberg News/TNS) – Colombia is set to ban coal exports to Israel in a bid to pressure the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to end the war in Gaza against the Hamas terror group.

The ministers of foreign affairs, finance, energy and trade decided to halt sales of the fuel, according to a draft decree published Friday on Colombia’s trade ministry’s website.

The Andean nation is Israel’s biggest supplier of coal; Colombia supplied Israel with about $450 million of the coal last year. The measure will take effect once President Gustavo Petro signs off on it, likely after he returns from a trip to Europe.

While coal has accounted for a fifth of Israel’s electricity production, it’s expected to drop to as low as 3% next year. In times of special need, two of Israel’s main power stations can switch to coal as an emergency backup.

The Israel Electric Corporation responded to the news Sunday, and stated that that it had alternatives to Colombian coal.

“We do not purchase directly from Colombia and do not participate in their tenders for coal sales,” a spokesperson for the company told the Times of Israel. “Our agreements are with large international trading companies and we have alternatives for the various sources.”

He added, “We are negotiating with alternative suppliers…to further increase our room for maneuver.”

Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan almost completely halted trade with Israel.

The move is an escalation in a clash between two countries that have historically had warm relations, and which have had a free-trade agreement in force since 2020.

The relationship frayed in recent months, with Petro baselessly describing the war in Gaza as “genocide,” while Netanyahu called Petro an “antisemitic supporter of Hamas.” The two countries broke off diplomatic relations in May.

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