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Diplomatic spat after Chilean leader snubs new Israeli ambassador

Chilean President Boric postponed a meeting with the Israeli envoy after the Israeli army killed a Palestinian boy on the same day.

A diplomatic tussle intensified after the Chilean president delayed accepting the credentials of the new Israeli ambassador in Santiago over the killing of a Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank.

In response, Israel’s Foreign Ministry invited Chilean Ambassador Jorge Carvajal to what it called a reprimand at a meeting that said, “Israel’s response will be made clear.”

The dispute began Thursday when Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola informed newly appointed Israeli Ambassador Gil Artzyeli that Chilean President Gabriel Boric was postponing a meeting to receive his credentials until October.

“That’s because today is a sensitive day because of the death of a minor,” a Chilean Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a text message, referring to the death that day of 17-year-old Palestinian boy Odai Trad Salah.

Salah was shot in the head by Israeli forces in the village of Kufr Dan near the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, becoming the 149th Palestinian to be killed by Israel that year.

Israel attacked the snub on Friday, with its foreign ministry calling it “enigmatic and unprecedented behavior,” adding in its statement, “This is seriously damaging relations between the two countries.”

On Thursday, Artzyeli, the new ambassador, tried to defuse tensions after holding an “extensive” meeting at which Chilean authorities issued repeated apologies.

“As an Israeli and a Jew, my people have seen worse in the last 4,000 years,” he told reporters in Santiago. “We will overcome this incident for the good of Chile, Israel and our bilateral relationship.”

Boric’s move was commended by the Palestinian Authority on Friday.

“We welcome the position of the Chilean President, which is in line with international law and international resolutions, and we appreciate this position, which aims to put pressure on the Israeli government to end its ongoing daily crimes against our people,” he said Ahmad al-Deek, Advisor to the Palestinian Foreign Minister.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces killed the teenager in clashes on Thursday, the latest in a string of deadly incidents that have fueled fears of an escalation.

The left-leaning Boric has frequently spoken out against Israel and its military operations. In a television interview last year, Boric, who became Chile’s president in March, was asked if he maintained his earlier opinion that Israel is a “genocidal and murderous” state.

“I say so,” he replied.

In 2019, Chile’s Jewish community sent Boric a jar of honey to celebrate the Jewish New Year. Boric replied on Twitter: “I appreciate the gesture, but they could start asking Israel to return the illegally occupied Palestinian territory.”

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