Chilean president refuses to accept Israeli ambassador’s credentials; FM apologizes

Leftist President Gabriel Boric angered by death of a Palestinian during a clash the day before.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Chilean foreign ministry officials apologized to Israel after the president of the South American country refused to accept the diplomatic credentials of the Jewish state’s ambassador on Thursday.

President Gabriel Boric’s refusal to accept the credentials of new Ambassador Gil Artzyeli was viewed as a grave breach of protocol and an affront to both Israel and Chile’s more than 18,000 Jews.

Chilean media reported that the leftist Boric was angered by the death of a 17-year-old Palestinian during a clash near Jenin on Wednesday and the death of children in Gaza.

According to Walla News, Artzyeli had arrived at Palacio de la Moneda, the presidential palace for the ceremony when he was notified by Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola that Boric refused to see him. The presentation of credentials is a diplomatic formality.

Urrejola told Artzyeli that the ceremony was postponed to October.

Comunidad Judía de Chile, which represents the Jewish community slammed Boric, calling the snub “an offense to the friendship of more than 70 years between Chile and Israel.”

Artzyeli, who arrived in Santiago in July, stressed the Chilean apologies to himself and to the Jewish state in comments to reporters.

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“We are turning a new page,” Artzyeli said. “For me, the incident this morning 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.”

However, according to Walla News, Chile’s Foreign Ministry only apologized for not informing Artzyeli ahead of time that the ceremony was postponed.

Boric, a 36-year-old radical leftist who was elected president last year, has a history of animosity towards Israel. In addition, more than 350,000 Palestinians live in Chile, making it the largest Palestinian community outside the Mideast.

In one memorable incident that occurred when he was a member of Chile’s Chamber of Deputies, the Jewish community sent Boric a jar of honey as a token Rosh Hashanah gift. Boric returned the honey and tweeted, “I appreciate the gesture, but they could have asked Israel to return illegally occupied Palestinian territory.”

Boric has also supported draft legislation to boycott products and services from Israeli settlements and, during a campaign meeting with Jewish leaders, referred to Israel as a “murderous state.”