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Chile’s president accepts Israeli envoy’s credentials, two weeks after snub

  • October 01, 2022

Chile’s President Gabriel Boric accepted the credentials of Israeli Ambassador Gil Artzyeli on Saturday, two weeks after snubbing the envoy amid increased military activity in the West Bank.

Artzyeli had arrived at the Presidential Palace in Santiago earlier in September for the formality but was turned away by the Chilean government due to the killing of a 17-year-old Palestinian the night before, sparking a diplomatic row.

Oday Salah was shot dead in violent clashes with Israeli troops who were in the village of Kafr Dan to map for demolition the homes of two residents who allegedly shot and killed an IDF officer the day before. The IDF said its troops opened fire on suspects who threw explosives at them.

The Foreign Ministry fiercely condemned Boric’s action, charging that it “seriously harms the relations” between the two countries, and summoned Chile’s ambassador to Israel for a dressing down. After the incident sparked controversy within Chile, Artzyeli was summoned to the Chilean Foreign Ministry, where he received an apology.

The left-wing Boric won Chile’s presidency in a landslide victory last year, unnerving the country’s Jewish community.

Boric has a tense relationship with Chile’s 18,000 Jews and has encouraged them to lobby for Israeli territorial concessions. As a lawmaker, he supported a bill proposing to boycott Israeli goods from the Golan Heights, West Bank settlements and areas of Jerusalem that came under Israeli control in 1967.

During his presidential campaign, many members of the community expressed concern over the boycott, along with what they said was a pattern of demanding that local Jews condemn Israeli policy.

“We are of course willing to accept reasonable criticism about Israel, but what we hear from Boric is that Israel is a ‘genocidal’ and ‘murderous’ state,” Gabriel Zaliasnik, a prominent member of Chile’s Jewish community, told Haaretz during the campaign. “To make matters worse, he blames our Jewish community for Israel’s actions.”

An open letter in 2021 to Boric by 500 Chilean Jewish women said that “we do not believe that it is fair or correct for you to hold the Jews […] responsible for the policies of a government in power in Israel. History is full of examples of unjust accusations or massive blame on our people.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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