Israeli ambassador to present credentials to Chilean president after snub

Israel views Chile’s "bizarre and unprecedented behavior" with severity, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

 Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric celebrates with supporters after winning the presidential election in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/RODRIGO GARRIDO)
Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric celebrates with supporters after winning the presidential election in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/RODRIGO GARRIDO)

Chilean Foreign Minister Ximena Fuentes Torrijo apologized to Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz on Sunday for Chilean President Gabriel Boric's refusal to accept the credentials of Israel's new ambassador to the country Gil Artzyeli, emphasizing the importance of Israel-Chile ties, and adding that Artzyeli will present his credentials on September 30.

The Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned Chile’s ambassador Jorge Carvajal to Jerusalem for a reprimand after  Boric, who has a history of supporting boycotts against Israel, refused to accept Artzyeli’s credentials last week as planned on September 15. 

“Israel views Chile’s bizarre and unprecedented behavior with severity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said on Friday. “This seriously harms relations between the countries. Chile’s ambassador to Israel was summoned to the Foreign Ministry director-general on Sunday for a reprimand.”

Artzyeli was already at the presidential palace for his scheduled presentation of credentials to Boric, when Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola informed him he would not be seen that day. The ceremony was postponed to September 30.

Government sources told Chilean news site Ex-Ante that Boric decided not to see the ambassador, “because today is a very sensitive day due to the death of a minor in the Gaza Strip.”

A teenager was, in fact, killed in IDF actions against terrorists in the West Bank, not Gaza.

 Supporters of Chilean presidential candidate Gabriel Boric celebrate after their candidate won the presidential election, in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/IVAN ALVARADO) Supporters of Chilean presidential candidate Gabriel Boric celebrate after their candidate won the presidential election, in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/IVAN ALVARADO)

Israeli envoy accepts apology from Chile's FM

Artzyeli said, following an hour-long meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Santiago on Thursday afternoon, that the minister repeatedly apologized.

“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.”

The Chilean ministry said in a statement early Saturday that the postponement should be understood as a response “within the framework of the political sensitivity generated by the death of a Palestinian teenager” last Thursday.

It added that the postponement decision was “exceptional,” and that it reiterated its “permanent willingness to maintain a fraternal and constructive relationship” with Israel and its people.

Leftist Boric was elected president earlier this year, but Chileans have rejected his new proposal for the country's constitution. 

Chile's Jewish community concerned with Boric

Chile's Jewish community has long expressed concerns about Boric's outspoken anti-Israel stance.

In 2019, Chile’s Jewish community sent Boric a jar of honey for Rosh Hashanah, to which Boric responded on Twitter with “I appreciate the gesture, but they could have asked Israel to return illegally occupied Palestinian territory.”

Boric called Israel a “murderous state” in a meeting with the Jewish community during his campaign.

In addition, Boric previously supported a bill calling for a boycott of goods, services and products from Israeli settlements.

Chile has a Palestinian diaspora community of about 350,000.

Maya Zanger-Nadia and Reuters contributed to this report.