"Renewing relations with Nicaragua may be a breakthrough in the relations with all four Latin American countries that severed diplomatic ties with Israel, including Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia," explained Deputy Director General of the Foreign Ministry's Division for Central and South America Modi Efraim, following the Nicaraguan government's announcement Thursday night confirming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's initial allusion to the move on Tuesday. Nicaragua, in addition to Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia had all ended their ties with Israel following the Marmara flotilla incident, in which several Turkish national protestors were killed in a confrontation with IDF forces.
"Ideologically speaking, there is no doubt that having the Sandinista government (the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front party, led by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega—ed) and a member of the ALBA Alliance (an agreement between countries in Latin America and the Caribbean—ed) renewing relations with Israel will have some effect," said Efraim. He added that "I hope in the not so distant future, we will renew relations with the other countries, as well."
Israel and Nicaragua put out a joint statement around 1:00 Israeli time. The statement paused on the various forms of cooperation between both countries, including in areas of agriculture, health and education. It continued to say that they are looking forward to reinstating ties between each other with the aim of working to mutual benefit both peoples and as a step toward world peace.
The announcement was preceded by a year of clandestine meetings between representatives of both countries' governments. Two weeks prior, it was Efraim who visited the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, as he met with Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada.
Nicaragua is ruled by two main decision makers: President Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, who in addition to her role as first lady is the country's vice president and lead government spokesperson. After reportedly gaining the super power couple's favor, Israel was able to facilitate the current reconciliation.
Apparently, things are indeed becoming more caliente between the two countries. Recently, Nicaragua removed its objection to having Israel join SICA (the Central American Integration System) as an observer. After initially blocking Israel's request two years earlier, Nicaragua announced it supports Israel's inclusion, marking a change in it policy.
The Foreign Ministry is hoping that renewing ties with Nicaragua will open the door to rekindling relations with other Latin American cultures, namely Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, all of whom severed ties with Israel following the Marmara incident.
Speaking at an official memorial ceremony for deceased former heads of Israeli government and state on Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that “Today, we are blessed with excellent relations with more than 160 countries. That number is growing. Next week, another country will announce the establishment of relations with the State of Israel.”
Nicaragua suspended diplomatic ties with Israel in 2010 in protest of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship that was attempting to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. In the incident, nine persons were killed.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s decision to sever ties was announced by his wife and government communications chief, Rosario Murillo, who is now the country’s vice president. Murillo announced then that her government “underscored the illegal nature of the attack on a humanitarian mission in clear violation of international and humanitarian law.”
(Translated and edited by Gahl Becker)