Colombia to Ban Coal Sales to Israel to Seek an End to Gaza War

Colombia to Ban Coal Sales to Israel to Seek an End to Gaza War

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(Bloomberg) — Colombia is set to ban coal exports to Israel in a bid to pressure the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyah to end the conflict in Gaza. 

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

The Andean nation is Israel’s biggest supplier of the fossil fuel. The measure will take effect once President Gustavo Petro signs off on it, likely after he returns from a trip to Europe. 

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Israel’s relations have worsened with governments across Latin America this year. But, until now, this has mainly been expressed through diplomatic measures rather than trade sanctions. Colombia supplied Israel with about $450 million of the coal last year.

Drummond Company Inc., based in Alabama, and Glencore Plc. are the only two suppliers of Colombian coal to Israel.

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.

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

Diplomatic Clash

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 describing the intervention 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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