Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Saturday accused Israel of being the "murder arm" of the United States and said the solution to the Gaza crisis was in the hands of Barack Obama when he becomes U.S. president in 10 days.
On announcing Venezuela's first humanitarian aid shipment for Gaza's embattled Palestinians, Chavez said he was not surprised Israel ignored the United Nation's call Thursday for a ceasefire in Gaza because, he said, "behind Israel lurks the United States."
"It doesn't surprise me in the least.... The Israeli government doesn't comply because it is the United States. Unfortunately, Israel has become the murder arm of the United States," he added.
Chavez, Latin America's most prominent leftist leader and staunch foe of outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, said the solution to the Gaza conflict was squarely in the hands of Bush's successor Obama, who is to be inaugurated Jan. 20.
"Let's wait and see what Obama will do when he takes power as president... and head of the empire," Chavez said, using his pet name for the United States.
"Because if anybody can stop that massacre it's the U.S. president, because it was a U.S. president who ordered it in the first place," he said.
World 'sits there'
Chavez also slammed the international community for not doing enough to stop the Israeli onslaught in Gaza, which since Dec. 27 has killed nearly 900 people, according to Gaza emergency services.
"They're killing the Palestinian people in Gaza and the world sits there, arms crossed, drawing up (U.N.) resolutions. We should move on to more concrete actions. We went as far as we could and threw out the (Israeli) ambassador," Chavez said.
Venezuela on Tuesday expelled Israel's ambassador to Caracas as calls mounted in Latin America for an end to the Jewish state's deadly assault on the Gaza Strip. The following day, Israel expelled Venezuela's charge d'affaires.
Chavez said Venezuela's first air shipment of relief supplies for Gaza would be leaving Sunday for Egypt.
U.N. part of U.S. 'empire'
Meanwhile in La Paz, Chavez ally, President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, said the United Nations was under Washington's thumb and he regretted that the world body was unable to stop the bloodshed in Gaza.
"What I'm sorry about is that the United Nations is not for the people of the world, it's a United Nations for the U.S. empire, and we don't want that," Morales said Saturday.
In other Chavez news, the president threatened to expel a U.S. diplomat he said may have advised opposition leaders on how win a vote on whether the leftist can run for re-election.
Chavez, who last year expelled Venezuela's U.S. ambassador, said the unidentified official would be thrown out if evidence showed he had taken part in a meeting he said was held in Puerto Rico.
"If this is proven, I will throw him out of the country for interfering in Venezuela's internal affairs," Chavez said during a television broadcast.