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Cablegate: Colombia's Relations with Israel (C-Ne8-00834)

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #4036/01 3122013
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 072013Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5421
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8480
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1294
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6714
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 2621
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 7412
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0542
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

id: 177430
date: 11/7/2008 20:13
refid: 08BOGOTA4036
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: SECRET
destination: 08STATE64659
header:
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #4036/01 3122013
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 072013Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5421
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8480
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1294
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6714
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 2621
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 7412
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0542
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY


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S E C R E T BOGOTA 004036

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2018
TAGS: PGOV PINR PTER MASS MCAP PREL CO IS
SUBJECT: COLOMBIA'S RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL (C-NE8-00834)

REF: STATE 64659

Classified By: Political Counselor John Creamer
Reasons 1.4 (b and d)

SUMMARY
--------
1. (C) The Government of Colombia (GOC) maintains positive
relations with Israel, particularly in the defense sector
through private Israeli defense contractors. Key areas of
cooperation include strategic military advice, special forces
training, and arms sales in support of Colombia's battle
against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ("FARC").
Economic relations between the two countries outside of
defense cooperation remain relatively limited. Colombia's
Jewish community remains small, with only approximately 4,000
members. End Summary.

MILITARY COOPERATION
--------------------
2. (S/NF) Colombia's defense cooperation with Israel cooled
during the 1980s and 1990s, when some Israeli mercenaries
reportedly helped train paramilitary forces in Colombia.
More recently, the GOC has engaged former Israeli military
officials to help provide training and advice in the fight
against the FARC and other terrorist groups. A contact
within the Colombian Ministry of Defense (MOD) told us that
this new relationship dates back to December 2006. Over the
last two years, Embassy officers visiting the MOD and
Colombian military have observed an increased presence of
Israeli advisors.

3. (S) Israeli contractors support the GOC through arms
sales, military training, and the provision of strategic
military planning and consulting services. The GOC has also
engaged Israeli contractors to train Colombian special
forces, particularly related to high value targets (HVTs).
In 2005 and 2006, there was significant frustration among
senior Colombian military leadership related to a poor
success rate in killing or capturing HVTs. The GOC
subsequently contracted retired and active duty Israel
Defense Force officers with special operations and military
intelligence backgrounds to help in this regard. Israeli
contractors have also made recommendations to the GOC on
military purchases, joint military operations, and how to
restructure Colombia's intelligence services.

THE "STRATEGIC LEAP"
--------------------
4. (S/NF) Colombia's Ministry of Defense (MOD) has also
engaged an Israeli company, Global Comprehensive Security
Transformation (Global CST), to help the Colombian government
conduct a strategic assessment of the internal conflict.
Global CST is a security company run by Major Gen (reserve)
Yisrael Ziv, former Director of Operations for the Israel
Defense Forces and a personal acquaintance of Colombian
Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos. The assessment is
focused primarily on defeating the FARC and other internal
terrorist and criminal organizations, but also includes an
evaluation of external threats including Venezuela and
Ecuador. The MOD is spearheading the exercise and has named
it the "Salto Estrategico" (Strategic Leap).

ARMS SALES
----------
5. (C) In February 2008, the GOC signed a deal with the
Israeli government to update 24 Kfir C7s to the C10 version.
The GOC is negotiating a possible USD 160 million avionics
upgrade contract with the Israel state-owned company Israel
Aircraft Industries, Ltd. (IAI). The IAI contract would
involve a complete revamping of Colombia's aging Mirage 5 and
Kfir fighter aircraft. The GOC is also negotiating the
possible purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from
IAI, with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)
capabilities. A consortium including IAI is also bidding on
the sale of naval frigates to the GOC. According to an
internal MOD document, roughly 38% (606,773 million Colombian
pesos) of the GOC's foreign defense purchases went to Israel
in 2007. The GOC arms purchases from Israel have not led to
direct or indirect GOC support to Israel in other political
or economic areas, such as countering Iran, or in supporting
Israeli positions at the United Nations.

COLOMBIA'S JEWISH COMMUNITY
---------------------------
6. (C) The Jewish community in Colombia is concentrated in
Bogota, with smaller communities in Cali, Barranquilla and
Medellin. The Confederation of Associations of Bogota
represents the Ashkenazi, Sephardic and German Jewish
communities in the country, and there are some nine
synagogues in Colombia. In the mid-1990s, the Jewish
community was estimated to be around 5,500, although many
Jews subsequently left due to violence and economic
instability. An estimated 4,000 Jews currently reside in
Colombia. There are no indications that Colombia's foreign
policy interests are shaped by the country's Jewish
community.

ECONOMIC RELATIONS
------------------
7. (C) Israel's economic relations with Colombia remain
relatively limited. Colombian exports to Israel fell 17
percent from 2005 to 2007, dropping from USD 197 million to
USD 164 million. During the same period, Colombian imports
rose 60 percent, increasing from USD 99 million to USD 161
million. Israel ranked as Colombia's 26th largest trading
partner in 2007. Over 88 percent of Colombian exports to
Israel in 2007 consisted of minerals or hydrocarbons. The
majority of Colombian imports from Israel in 2007 were
divided among the following sectors: arms and ammunition (28
percent); electrical machinery (25 percent); and
non-electrical machinery including boilers (11 percent).
While precise country of origin data for foreign direct
investment (FDI) is difficult to confirm, Israel has not been
a significant source of FDI in Colombia in recent years.

8. (S) A previous, comprehensive report prepared by DIA on
relations between Israel and Colombia is being sent to INR
via e-mail.
BROWNFIELD

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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