Israel on Monday detained eight Colombian congressmen on their way to a conference in Palestinian territory.
The officials were detained with their passports withheld for 9 hours before Pedro Muvdi, a House representative, tweeted “After 9 hours of arrest, we are in Ramallah. a Complaint will presented at the Embassy of Israel, once we get back to Colombia”
Después de 9 horas de retención, ya estamos en Ramallah. Presentaremos queja en la Embajada de Israel, una vez regresemos a Colombia.
— Pedro Muvdi(@PedroMuvdi) November 11, 2012
Along with Muvdi were six members of the Liberal party and one Conservative party member, who were stopped on their way to a formal event hosted by Palestinian leaders to assist in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority, just north of the Israeli capital Jerusalem.
A spokesman for the Colombian government expressed that “if there is respect for Colombia, the ambassador of Israel must give an explanation for the conduct of it’s forces” and called the treatment of the Colombian congressmen “abuse” while going on to say that “Colombia has respect for democratic processes but they must explain themselves.”
In a response, a spokesman of Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the congressmen, carrying diplomatic passports, arrived at the border crossing unannounced. “In Israel the issue of borders if very sensitive,” said the official, who denied the lawmakers were detained for more than eight hours.
“It was for a short moment. To me it seems that an hour is very normal and when there is no prior coordination.”
Travel through the area is strictly monitored by Israeli police and army personnel however Jerusalem and surrounding areas are usually easy to maneuver around for foreigners being that it is a popular tourist destination, especially for young Colombians drawn to the different lifestyle.