Join Our Mailing List

Israel's International Relations:
Cooperation with Latin America

(Updated February 2014)

Israel's IR: Table of Contents | With the United States | With Europe

Print Friendly and PDF

Israel's relations with the states of Latin America, comprising all the Spanish speaking countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean, dates back to even before the official independence of the State of Israel. In November 1947, when the UN General Assembly voted to partition the territory of the British Mandate in Palestine, more than half of the Latin American member nations voted in favor of creating a Jewish state.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Israel's relations with countries in the region were strengthened, due in no small measure to joint programs in which Israel shared its experience and skills in areas such as agriculture, medicine, organization of cooperatives and rural, regional and community development. Thousands of Latino trainees participated in study programs in Israel during this time.

Developments during the 1960s and 1970s, however, led to a lessening of support for Israel within the countries of Latin America. This hardening was apparent mainly within the United Nations and its affiliated bodies.

Today, though, relations have thawed considerably and Israel maintains full diplomatic relations with all the countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean, except Cuba. These relations are reflected in productive cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres, as well as in a large number of bilateral agreements in many areas. The only two embassies located in Jerusalem are those of El Salvador and Costa Rica, a fact which adds a facet to the traditionally friendly relations with the countries of the region and especially those of Central America.

The friendly bilateral relations are only partially reflected in the multilateral sphere - in the votes of most countries of the region in the United Nations and other international organizations - inter alia due to their traditional affiliation with the Non-Aligned States and the Group of 77. The political-economic-social Rio Group has so far manifested a more balanced and positive position regarding Israel.

Commerce between Israel and Latin America is extending steadily. A Free Trade Agreement between Mexico and Israel, concluded in 2000, added a new dimension to this sphere. Exports, including chemicals, high-tech software, agricultural produce, machinery and electronics, and imports, consisting mainly of meat, grain, corn, sugar, cocoa, coffee and metals, are both on the increase, and Israeli banks, construction firms and agricultural planning and development companies are active in the countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Cultural and scientific agreements for the exchange of artists, students and athletes operate between Israel with some 20 countries and are coordinated by the Institute of Israel-Iberoamerican Culture in Jerusalem.

In 2005, Israel signed a framework agreement with MERCOSUR, an established economic market that promotes free trade between Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.

In June 2009, the Conference of Latin American Parliamentarians met in Jerusalem with the aim of exposing of Latin American legislators to the Israeli reality and regional issues. Twenty-six senators and members of parliament from thirteen countries attended the event, including the president of the El Salvador Parliament and the chairs of foreign affairs committees from Chile, Mexico and Paraguay.

In February 2014, Israel was accepted as an observer state of the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trade bloc that consists of Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica. Israel exports around $900 million worth of goods to the Pacific Alliance annually and the country's accession will enable it to conduct trade more efficiently with these countries.

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; MERCOSUR Agreement; IMRA (February 11, 2014)

Back to Top