Venezuela faces major political crisis under socialist president Nicolas Maduro. Maduro started a second term on January 10 following a widely-boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognise.
Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president. Shortly after Guaido took an oath swearing himself in before his supporters, US President Donald Trump publicly recognised him as the country’s leader. In response, Maduro broke off diplomatic ties with the United States and gave the American diplomats in the country 72 hours to leave.
Israel also recognises opposition leader Guaido as the country’s leader.
“Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognising the new leadership in Venezuela,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
A senior Russian diplomat has said Moscow is ready to play mediator between Venezuela’s government and the opposition.
Alexander Shchetinin, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Latin America department, told the state RIA Novosti news agency that “if our efforts are called for, we are ready to make the effort.”
Moscow had already denounced the US decision to recognise Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president, calling it an attempted coup.
Maduro accused Guaido of staging a coup and ordered his arrest
The country was once one of Latin America’s most prosperous nations. Though Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, corruption and mismanagement under two decades of socialist rule have left the country in chaos.
Most migrants say they are fleeing Venezuela’s imploding economy but Mr Maduro has dismissed the migration figures as “fake news” created to justify foreign intervention in Venezuela’s affairs. He has urged his country’s people to “stop cleaning toilets abroad” and return home.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to secure backing from the United Nations Security Council against Venezuela, as China and Russia are close Maduro allies. Nicolas Maduro’s regime has been blocked from ripping USD1.2 billion (AUD1.7 billion) worth of gold out of the Bank of England.