Thirty-six-year-old Gabriel Boric, the youngest Chilean president ever to have been elected, refused Thursday morning to receive Israel's new ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, who was summoned to the Chilean Presidential Palace to present his credential papers.
The news was reported by Chilean newspaper Ex-Ante, however, the Chilean government denied this, stating that the presentation of the diplomatic letters had merely been postponed: "It is not that he was suspended, but that he was asked to postpone until the second week of October." Ex-Ante confirmed that the decision was taken into consideration: "Because of Israel killing children in the recent escalation in the West Bank and increased Israeli military activity against Palestinians."
The Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to a question from Ex-Ante, stated: "The presentation of Israel's credentials has been rescheduled to the second week of October because today is a very sensitive day due to the killing of a boy in the West Bank." Artzyeli claims the Chilean Foreign Ministry apologised to him and the Israeli government over the postponement.
Boric's refusal to receive Israel's new ambassador was warmly received by the Palestinian community in Chile. The Palestinian Community rushed to commend Boric´s decision via a statement signed by its president, Maurice Khamis Massu. The statement expressed: "The Palestinian Community of Chile highly values the decision of President Gabriel Boric Font to postpone the ceremony of the diplomatic credentials of the new Israeli ambassador to Chile because the Israeli occupation army assassinated the minor Oday Salah from Kafr Dan in Jenin, Occupied Palestinian Territory."
Massu also thanked the president for his continued support for Palestine: "We firmly believe that as long as the world continues to treat Israel and its diplomats as normal, the situation of the Palestinians won't improve. Israel systematically commits war crimes, crimes against humanity, human rights violations and subjects the Palestinian population to an apartheid regime."
In an interview with MEMO, Massu shared: "We, as the Palestinian Community of Chile, appreciate the president's decision to postpone the diplomatic credential ceremony on the same day the Israeli army murdered a Palestinian boy in the West Bank. We believe that as long as war crimes, human rights violations and the apartheid regime continue, the reality of life for the Palestinians will not change. We appreciate the president's gesture, and we hope he will serve as an example to the world regarding human rights violations, especially the murder of children."
Frente a grave incidente diplomático en que presidente @gabrielboric no recibió cartas credenciales de @Gil_Artzyeli, la Com. Judía, expresa su repudio. Es una ofensa a la amistad de más de 70 años entre Chile e Israel. Esperamos rectificación del @GobiernodeChile @IsraelinChile
— Comunidad Judía de Chile (@comjudiachile) September 15, 2022
Following President Boric´s decision, anger was widespread among the Jewish communities in Chile and abroad, expressing their fear about the future actions of the Chilean president. According to Israel, it reprimanded the Chilean Ambassador in Tel Aviv Jorge Carvajal, who apologised to Ambassador Artzyeli and his family on behalf of the Chilean government.
Sources from the Jewish Community of Chile (CJC) stated: "There is no precedent in the history of the CJC as serious as this one. It is not ruled out that the Israeli government will present a diplomatic protest."
Gabriel Zaliasnik, former president of the Jewish community in Chile, affirms that President Boric's gesture of refusing to receive the credentials of the Israeli ambassador to Chile is the most serious reflection of the president´s animosity towards Israel that he has shown since he was a deputy. "It is not only an insult towards the Jewish community in Chile with its hundreds of years of contribution to the country's development, but it also embarrasses those who value democracy and freedom by despising a country that embraces democracy and freedom and the close relations with the two countries," Zaliasnik told Ex-Ante.
Zaliasnik also adds in his Interview with Ex-Ante: "Unfortunately, the president drags Chilean foreign policy and the 70-year relationship between Chile and Israel into unknown territory. He misaligns Chilean foreign policy that has been open for many years with Europe, Canada and the United States." Zaliasnik hopes President Boric: "Gives the Jewish community a sufficient explanation and excuses for this insult which it has no name."
Boric is known to be a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause and a defender of human rights, which are continuously violated in the Occupied Territories. On more than one occasion, Boric branded Israel a "genocidal" and "murderous" state. Boric's pro-Palestinian stance was conveyed in an interview with Vivo TV Chile during his campaign: "It doesn't matter how much power that country has, we need our foreign policy to defend human rights with all its might, regardless of the government."
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.