Ecuador will continue supporting Palestine despite U.S. pressure to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.
The successful campaign “Ecuador with Palestine” organized by civil society and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resulted in 20 tons of medical supplies and other crucial donations that will be delivered to Gaza next week.
The end of the campaign on August 25 coincided with a letter sent by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez, Mark Kirk and James Risch, urging the governments of Ecuador, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru and Chile to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.
The letter read, “Your actions send a troubling message to the United States about your government’s commitment to long-lasting peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
In early August President Rafael Correa canceled a trip to Israel scheduled for the second half of this year. This decision was made in the midst of the “Operation Protective Edge,” which saw a ceasefire begin Tuesday after leaving more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.
The government of Ecuador recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv and has opened an embassy in Ramallah.
Reacting to the letter sent by the senators, Foreign Minister Ricard Patiño said, “These men should give advice in their own house, they are not going to give the Ecuadorian government advice, worse is this type of advice of a political nature.”
“We are going to keep developing other agreements to enter in strong bilateral relations,” said Palestinian Ambassador in Ecuador Hani Remawi, “We have a lot to give Ecuador, and Ecuador also has more, much, much more to offer Palestine.”
The solidarity campaign which began on August 10 resulted in double the initial estimated amount of aid to be sent to Gaza, which was projected to reach ten tons.
“It’s wonderful, it is a great campaign, coming from the Ecuadorian society and coming from the government, coming from many social movements, political movements, people are very interested in helping Palestine, in helping the Palestinian people,” said Saad Maher, a Palestinian teacher and translator residing in Quito who has been involved in the collection efforts.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently organizing with the Egyptian government as to how to transport the aid to Gaza. “Right now what we have to do is take the 20 tons to Palestine, so we will send a small delegation this weekend and then an authority, a higher authority of the Ministry will accompany the humanitarian aid to Gaza and we will hand it over to the Red Crescent, which is a Palestinian organization in charge of receiving humanitarian aid,” said Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Leonardo Arizaga in an interview with TeleSUR English.
Despite the letter sent by the U.S. senators, the Ecuadorian government is committed to continue its support of the Palestinian government and its people.