Venezuela: We support Lebanon, Palestine
Further deepening diplomatic crisis between Israel and Venezuela: President Chavez visits Damascus, meets with Palestinian faction leaders to 'identify with strong stance of Palestinian, Lebanese peoples.' Chavez slams Israeli aggressions and their support by US
Deputy Speaker of the Venezuelan parliament and head of the Damascus delegation, Desiree Santos Amaral, told news agencies, "we came to express our support and identification as parliament members with the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples."
Following the meeting with heads of ten Palestinian resistance fronts posted in the Syrian capital, Santos Amaral said: "We reject and condemn the Israeli aggression which is supported by the United States."
She also addressed the French-American ceasefire proposal, saying that a final agreement needed to take into account the interests of the Palestinian people and ensure "the right to resist."
The Venezuelan delegation's visit to Syria Tuesday took place against the backdrop of the crisis in diplomatic relations between Israel and Venezuela, which reached a low point Monday when Jerusalem recalled its ambassador in Caracas. The crisis began last Friday, when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is understood in Israel to have a strong pro-Arab stance, announced that he was recalling his nation's ambassador to Israel to express Venezuela's anger over Israel's offensive in Lebanon.
Since the outbreak of fighting in Lebanon, Chavez has not concealed his vehement opposition of the IDF's operations. Some three-and-a-half weeks ago he purported that the support Israel receives from the United States – with whom Chavez has poor relations – led to escalations in the Middle East.
'Israel massacring children'
Further, during Chavez's weekly radio and television broadcast Sunday, the Venezuelan president said Israel had "simply gone crazy," charged Israel was "massacring children," and called the situation in Lebanon "a second Holocaust."
Spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem Mark Regev rejected Chavez's criticism.
"Unfortunately, Chavez is not know to be particularly objective when it comes to the Mideast crisis," Regev told AP. "He embraces regional leaders who call for the demolition of the State of Israel, and in my opinion his judgment is doubtful in anything related to the Middle East."
Regev was referring to the warm embrace Chavez offered Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to Tehran at the end of July. During the visit, Chavez told his Iranian counterpart, "We stand with you and Iran forever. As long as we remain united, we can defeat the (American) imperialism. But if we don't stand together, they may succeed in defeating us."
Chairman of the Palestinian Resistance Front Khaled Abad al-Majid, who participated in the Damascus meeting Tuesday, said the delegation updated the faction on the steps the Venezuelan parliament was planning "against this aggression."
Despite the great pressures Washington has applied on Damascus lately to rein in Palestinian resistance operations in Syria and even close the office of the resistance committees, Abed al-Majid noted there had been no change in the Syrian stance toward the Palestinian factions. "There is no change, and the opposite is even true – the ties have strengthened in these historic moments," he said.
New agencies contributed to the report