JERUSALEM (JTA) — Juan Guaido, recognized by 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president, said he is working to “renew ties” with Israel.
Guaido also said during an interview with a reporter from the Israeli daily Israel Hayom that he is “confident” Israel will help his country by sending humanitarian aid, since Venezuela has sunk into poverty under its socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.
Guaido, the president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, declared himself the country’s interim president on Jan. 23 and called on Maduro to order new elections, saying Maduro’s 2018 re-election was fraudulent. The country’s military remains loyal to Maduro, however.
“I am very happy to announce that the process of stabilizing relations with Israel is in full swing,” Guaido said. “It is very important for us. We will renew ties, later we will announce the appointment of an ambassador to Israel, and we really hope an ambassador from Israel will come to us.”
Guaido said that siting the country’s embassy in Jerusalem, where it was located before it closed, “is one of the subjects we are talking about. I will declare the resumption of ties and the site of the embassy at the proper time.”
Venezuelan Jews in Israel have been active in efforts to enlist support for Guaido, according to the report.
The late president Hugo Chavez recalled his ambassador from Tel Aviv in 2006 over the war with Leabanon. Chavez severed diplomatic ties with Israel over its 2009 military operation in Gaza.
Approximately 6,000 Jews live in Venezuela, down from some 20,000 more than three decades ago. Most left the country for places such as the United States, Canada and Israel after facing anti-Semitism and economic turndown under Chavez and Maduro.