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Chile's president refuses credentials of Israeli envoy after Palestinian killed

Gabriel Boric did not attend meeting with ambassador after Israeli forces shot dead a teenager in the West Bank overnight
Last year, Boric, 36, became the youngest president in Chile's history (AFP)

Chile's President Gabriel Boric refused on Thursday to accept the credentials of Gil Artzyeli, the new Israeli ambassador to the country, after being angered by the Israeli military's killing of a 17-year-old Palestinian overnight.

Government sources told the Chilean news site Ex-Ante that Boric, 36, decided not to see the ambassador "because today is a very sensitive day due to the death of a minor in the Gaza Strip".

The teenager, Uday Salah, was in fact killed in the occupied West Bank after being shot in the head by Israeli forces.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Artzyeli as saying that Chile's foreign minister had later apologised to him and that the ceremony had been postponed until October.

In a tweet, Comunidad Judia de Chile, which represents Chile's 18,000-strong Jewish community, condemned Boric's refusal to accept the envoy's credentials as a "serious diplomatic incident".

The American Jewish Committee also criticised the move as "unprecedented" and said Boric must apologise or risk irreparable harm to Israel-Chile ties.

However, the Chile Palestine Community group thanked Boric for his decision in a statement, saying it "values enormously the decision of the president of the republic... to postpone the reception for the credentials of the new Israeli ambassador in Chile, because on the same day the Israeli occupation army assassinated a minor, Oday Salah, in Kafr Dan, Jenin".

It added that the president's gesture should be an example for the world to follow in response to Israeli war crimes and the killing of children.

'Return the illegally occupied territory'

Boric, a left-wing leader who has been sharply critical of Israel and also supports boycotts against goods from Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, was elected president last year in a landslide victory.

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In 2019, after receiving a gift for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hoshanah from Comunidad Judia de Chile, Boric responded by tweeting: "I appreciate the gesture but they could start by asking Israel to return the illegally occupied Palestinian territory."

Chile hosts one of the largest Palestinian populations outside of the Arab world, with a community of between 300,000 and 500,000 people of Palestinian descent living in the country.

In his victory speech last year, Boric, who at 35 became the youngest president in Chile's history, promised to "firmly fight against the privileges of a few".

"I guarantee that I will be a president who cares for democracy and does not risk it, listens more than speaks, seeks unity, and attends to the needs of the people daily," he said.