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Ceremony said to be rescheduled for next month

Israeli envoy says Chile apologized after its president refused his credentials

Ambassador Gil Artzyeli vows to overcome ‘awkward incident,’ says Jews ‘have been through worse’ than Gabriel Boric’s refusal to see him over Israel ‘killing children in Gaza’

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)
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)

Israel’s new envoy to Chile said he received an apology from the South American country after President Gabriel Boric refused to accept his credentials on Thursday, in an apparent major breach of diplomatic protocol that threatened to cloud ties between Jerusalem and Santiago.

Ambassador Gil Artzyeli said senior Chilean foreign ministry officials “apologized multiple times” to him personally and the State of Israel.

“We opened a new page,” Ambassador Gil Artzyeli told reporters after the meeting.

“For me, it was a rather awkward incident this morning, but being an Israeli and a Jew, my people have been through worse in the last 4,000 years,” he added.

Artzyeli also vowed that “we will get over this incident” for the benefit of ties between Israel and Chile.

The Israeli envoy is now expected to present his credentials in October.

A source quoted by the Walla news site denied that Chile apologized for pushing off the ceremony, however, saying the apology was only for not informing Artzyeli in advance.

Boric, who is a bitter critic of Israel, rebuffed Artzyeli after being angered by the Israeli military killing a 17-year-old Palestinian during clashes with gunmen in the West Bank overnight, according to the Ynet news site.

Artzyeli had been scheduled to present his credentials to Boric as a formality, but the Chilean government informed him that the ceremony had been canceled because of Israel “killing children in Gaza,” the report said.

Artzyeli had already arrived at the president’s residence for the ceremony, Walla reported.

Chile’s President Gabriel Boric speaks during a ceremony introducing new cabinet members in Santiago, Chile, September 6, 2022. (AP/Luis Hidalgo)

The Chileans reportedly claimed the refusal was not a punishment of Israel, and that it had been decided to push the ceremony to next month, but it was still considered an unprecedented affront.

Chile’s Jewish community condemned the refusal as a “serious diplomatic incident.”

The American Jewish Committee slammed the move as “unprecedented” and said Boric must apologize or risk irreparable harm to Israel-Chile ties, his connection to the Chilean Jewish community, and Chile’s international reputation.

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.

JTA contributed to this report.

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