After snub, Israeli envoy to Chile to be accepted at end of month

Chilean ambassador to Israel has been summoned to Jerusalem for a reprimand over his president’s refusal to accept Gil Artzyeli’s credentials last week.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s new envoy to Chile will have to wait two more weeks to present his credentials in Santiago, after President Gabriel Boric abruptly cancelled the ceremony Thursday, igniting a diplomatic row between the two countries.

Chile’s foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday that the diplomatic ceremony with Ambassador Gil Artzyeli will now occur on September 30.

To signal its anger over the snub, Israel’s foreign ministry summoned Ambassador Jorge Carvajal for a reprimand on Sunday, to be delivered by its director-general, Alon Ushpiz.

“Israel views Chile’s bizarre and unprecedented behavior with severity,” said ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon Friday in explaining the summons. “This seriously harms relations between the countries.”

On Thursday, Artzyeli had downplayed the “uncomfortable” incident, saying that at a later meeting in the Foreign Ministry, Minister Ximena Fuentes Torrijo had “apologized to me and the State of Israel numerous times,” and he was already “turning a new page… for the good of Chile and the good of Israel and for our bilateral relations.”

Artzyeli had arrived at the presidential palace only to be told that Boric would not meet with him. The president, who is known for his anti-Israel views, was angered by the death the day before of a Palestinian Arab terrorist in a clash with IDF troops in Jenin.

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In a Saturday statement on the affair, the Chilean foreign ministry had emphasized the “exceptional nature” of the death of “a minor,” which made it too “politically sensitive” for the ceremony to take place that day. The fact that 17-year-old Oday Salah was killed because he was throwing deadly firebombs at the soldiers was not mentioned.

In a sign of the professional discomfort the diplomatic faux pas had engendered, however, Fuentes accompanied the statement with a phone call to Ushpiz in Israel to apologize.

She talked of “her permanent will to maintain a fraternal and constructive relationship with the State of Israel and its people, based on respect, dialogue and cooperation.”

For his part, Ushpiz thanked her, while saying that if Chile desires to have a role in fostering peaceful relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, it cannot simultaneously encourage a boycott of Israel.

Boric is known to have supported draft legislation to boycott products and services from Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria when he was a Chilean lawmaker.

In addition, in a TV interview last year before becoming president, Boric answered in the affirmative when asked if he still believed that Israel is “a genocidal and murderous state.”

Chilean lawmakers criticized Boric’s cold shoulder as well, calling it a “snub” of “unprecedented” proportions. In a Friday letter, 21 members of a Chile-Israel interparliamentary group wrote, “Situations like these demonstrate a profound disdain for the more than 70 years of friendship between Chile and Israel.”

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In contrast, both the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist Hamas organization that rules the Gaza Strip praised the president’s stance.

“We welcome the Chilean president’s position, which is in line with international law and resolutions, and we appreciate this position aimed at applying pressure on the Israeli government to stop its ongoing daily crimes against our people,” said Ahmad al-Deek, an adviser to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.