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Chilean FM apologizes to Herzog for rejection of Israeli envoy’s credentials

Antonia Urrejola pulls Israeli president aside after queen’s funeral in London and expresses regret over diplomatic incident last week, Herzog’s office says

President Isaac Herzog (L) arrives at Buckingham Palace in London, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. Chile's Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola  attends a two-day Mercosur trade bloc summit at the Conmebol Convention Center in Luque, Paraguay on July 21, 2022. (Jorge Saenz, Markus Schreiber/AP)
President Isaac Herzog (L) arrives at Buckingham Palace in London, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. Chile's Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola attends a two-day Mercosur trade bloc summit at the Conmebol Convention Center in Luque, Paraguay on July 21, 2022. (Jorge Saenz, Markus Schreiber/AP)

Chile’s Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola on Monday apologized to President Isaac Herzog for its president’s refusal to accept the credentials of Israel’s new ambassador to the country in a contretemps that sparked a diplomatic row last week.

Urrejola and Herzog were both in London to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, and the Chilean foreign minister used the opportunity to approach the Israeli president, Herzog’s office said.

“Urrejola expressed regret for the incident and clarified that Chile was interested in turning over a new leaf in its relations with Israel,” according to the Israeli statement.

No official readout was provided by Urrejola’s office.

On Thursday, Israeli Ambassador Gil Artzyeli arrived in Santiago to present his credentials to President Gabriel Boric along with other new envoys.

A diplomatic official with close knowledge of the incident told The Associated Press that Artzyeli “was already at the palace, waiting to go into the room, when the minister of foreign relations came up to him and said that due to an incident that had taken place… with the death of a 17-year-old teenager in an operation by the Israeli military, the president had decided in that context to postpone the delivery of the credentials.”

Ambassador Gil Artzyeli speaks to reporters outside Chile’s foreign ministry in Santiago, after his credentials were refused by Chilean President Gabriel Boric, September 16, 2022. (Twitter screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Artzyeli was subsequently summoned to the Chilean Foreign Ministry where he said that Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ximena Fuentes apologized.

Israel fiercely condemned the snub and summoned Chile’s ambassador to Tel Aviv for a reprimand on Friday.

On Saturday, Chile’s foreign ministry announced that it had rescheduled the acceptance of Artzyeli’s credentials for September 30.

Explaining the decision to suspend the ceremonial procedure on Thursday, the ministry said it had to do with “the political sensitivity” generated by the death of a 17-year-old Palestinian during an IDF operation in the northern West Bank. Hours earlier, Oday Salah was shot dead in violent clashes with Israeli troops who were in the village of Kafr Dan to map the homes of two residents who allegedly shot and killed an IDF officer the day before. The IDF said its troops had opened fire on suspects who threw explosives at them.

The ministry statement stressed the “exceptional nature” of the killing that led to the decision to postpone the event, while adding that Chile still wants to “maintain a [warm] and constructive relationship with the State of Israel and its people, based on respect, dialogue and cooperation.”

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