In an unprecedented diplomatic incident, Chile's President Gabriel Boric refused to accept the credentials of the new Israeli ambassador to his country last week.
However, in an about-face on Saturday, the country's Foreign Ministry announced that Gil Artzyeli’s credentials would be accepted in a ceremony rescheduled for Sept. 30.
But the damage had already been done.
The president canceled the formal acceptance ceremony while the Israeli diplomat was already at the presidential residence last Thursday, Chilean media reported.
At the time, the reason cited for suspending the ceremonial procedure was “the political sensitivity” surrounding the death of a 17-year-old Palestinian shot and killed during an Israeli operation in the northern West Bank, Chile's Foreign Ministry said.
Chile's Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola informed the Israeli ambassador of the president’s decision, and he was told to leave. Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the story.
Chilean media outlet, Ex-Ante, reported that the president had decided not to see the Israeli ambassador after hearing about the death of a Palestinian teenager in clashes with the Israel Defense Forces. While the incident took place in Judea-Samaria, or “the West Bank,” the president referred to the news by saying that “today is a very sensitive day due to the death of a minor in the Gaza Strip.”
Artzyeli told The Jerusalem Post the incident was “quite uncomfortable.”
“Being an Israeli, and as a Jew, my people have undergone worse things in the last 4,000 years, and we are going to overcome this morning’s incident – for the good of Chile and the good of Israel and for our bilateral relations,” the Israeli diplomat said.
The left-wing Chilean president has long been known for his anti-Israel stance; he once referred to Israel as a “murderous state” and has expressed his support for the boycott of Israeli goods produced in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria.
Boric has had a tense relationship with Chile’s Jewish population, an estimated 18,000 people, some of whom condemned his breach of etiquette vis-à-vis the ambassador.
Chile has the largest Palestinian population outside the Arab world, with more than 350,000 community members.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.