Israel - Venezuela Relations

Venezuela (since 1999 the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) recognized Israel in 1948.  In 2009 it suspended relations because of Israel’s invasion of Gaza and has not resumed them since. The two countries do, however, maintain some trade. In 2019 Venezuela exported 4,377 thousand USD to Israel, receiving 1,040 thousand USD imports in return.[1]  Venezuela also traded with Israel as part of a Mercusor Israel Free Trade Agreement signed in 2007[2], until 2017 when it was suspended from Mercusor.[3]

During Hugo Chavez’ Presidency (1999-2013) and continuing under Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela aligned itself with Palestine. Venezuela recognized and established diplomatic relations with Palestine in 2009[4], and Palestine has an embassy in Caracas.[5]  Maduro has deepened the economic and other ties between the two entities.  This includes Petro-Palestina, created in 2014 to provide subsidized oil to Palestine,[6] and a bi-national bank established in 2018 with an initial investment of 20 million Venezuelan Petros[7]

As a result of a disputed election in January 2019, many countries including Israel have recognized Juan Guaidó as the Acting President of Venezuela, although Maduro continues as President. Guaidó has announced that he will re-establish relations with Israel and place an embassy in Jerusalem.[8]  However, elections for the legislative assembly, of which Guaidó is Acting President, will occur December 6, 2020, which will result in his losing his status effective January 5, 2021.

Military relations:

From 1975 to 1997, Venezuela made a series of weapons purchases from Israel, most of which were aircraft, with some additional support equipment or weaponry.  In 1984, Venezuela also received delivery of 25 LAR-160 (light artillery rockets), followed by 250 MAPAT anti-tank missiles in 1990.[9] 

Human Rights Violations:

Since the 1980s, human rights groups have consistently reported violations in the security and judicial sector of Venezuela.  These include arbitrary detention, excessive police force, torture, and killings, all by a combination of the police forces and by the National Guard. The overlapping jurisdiction of civilian and military systems creates a lack of clear accountability and transparency.   Exacerbating the problems are the overcrowded and abysmal conditions in the prisons, resulting in a high rate of murders– 40 times greater than the national average in 2003. [10]  Substantial numbers of minors have been subject to arbitrary detention and even execution.[11]  

In 1994, the government suspended by decree six basic human rights. In the subsequent months, the security and military conducted a large number of housing raids, predominantly on those of the poor, social activists and popular or opposition leaders, resulting in extra-judicial incarcerations.[12]   Constitutional protections were restored in 1999, and a new Criminal Procedure Code enacted.[13] 

More recently In February 2014, military and police forces beat or fired lethal and “non-lethal” weapons against unarmed protesters and others, over 3300 of whom were detained and often abused.  Although numerous complaints of these human rights violations have been submitted, there have been few consequences.   Furthermore, government efforts to control the media have limited journalism as a way to uncover information in this or other cases that the government itself does not release.[14] 

Sales Records Table:

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Item Companies Involved System Country Date Deal Size Link
40 Barak missiles ordered via a Dutch company for use in Defender SAM system by Venezuela Refael, IAI Barak SAM Venezuela 2005-2006 40 units / 20 m $
2 EL/M-2238 STAR air search radar systems for the 2 Lupo (Sucre) frigates IAI EL/M-2238 STAR Venezuela 24/6/1905 2 units
54 Python-4 BVRAAV missiles for F-16A combat aircraft Refael Python-4 BVRAAV missiles Venezuela 2004 7.5 m $