TEL AVIV: A diplomatic tussle intensified on Friday after Chile’s president put off accepting the credentials of Israel’s new ambassador to Santiago over the killing in the occupied West Bank of a Palestinian teenager.

In response, Israel’s foreign ministry summoned Chilean ambassador Jorge Carvajal for what it called a reprimand at a meeting where, it said, “Israel’s response will be made clear”.

The dispute began on Thursday when Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola informed newly appointed Israeli Ambassador Gil Artzyeli that Chilean President Gabriel Boric had postponed a meeting to accept his credentials until next month.

“That’s because today is a sensitive day because of the death of a minor,” a spokesperson from Chile’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a text message, referring to the death of a 17-year-old Palestinian boy that day.

Israel assailed the snub on Friday, with its foreign ministry labelling it “puzzling and unprecedented behaviour” and adding in its statement: “This seriously harms relations between the two countries.”

On Thursday, Artzyeli, the new ambassador, sought to ease tensions following what he said was an “extensive” meeting where Chilean authorities repeatedly apologised.

“Being an Israeli and a Jew my people have seen worse things in the last 4,000 years,” he told reporters in Santiago. “We’re going to overcome this incident for the good of Chile, the good of Israel and our bilateral relations.”

Boric’s move drew praise from the Palestinian Authority, as well as the Hamas movement in Gaza.

“We welcome the Chilean president’s position, which is in line with international law and resolutions, and we appreciate this position aimed at applying pressure on the Israeli government to stop its ongoing daily crimes against our people,” said Ahmad al Deek, adviser to the Palestinian foreign minister.

The Palestinian health ministry said Israeli forces killed the teenager on Thursday during clashes, the latest in a string of deadly incidents that have stoked fears of an escalation.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2022

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