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December 23, 2022 12:14 pm
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Chile’s Left-Wing President Announces Opening of Embassy in Palestinian City of Ramallah

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Chilean President Gabriel Boric addressing a campaign rally. Photo: Reuters/Vanessa Rubila

The president of Chile has announced that the Latin American nation will open an embassy in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority (PA), denouncing Israel’s “illegal occupation” at the same time in a speech to a Palestinian group.

Gabriel Boric — who won the presidency during elections one year ago at the head of a left-wing ticket backed by the Communist Party — said on Wednesday that Chile intended to “raise the level of our official representation in Palestine” by opening an embassy in the West Bank city where the PA is based. While several countries have opened representative offices in Ramallah, only the missions of Venezuela, Oman and Tunisia have the status of embassies to the “State of Palestine,” which is not a full member of the United Nations.

A stalwart supporter of the Palestinians, Boric introduced legislation while serving in Chile’s parliament that imposed a boycott of goods and services produced by Jewish communities located in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. During his election campaign, Boric enthusiastically reaffirmed this position at a meeting with leaders of the 350,000-strong Palestinian community in Chile — the largest Palestinian diaspora outside of the Middle East and one with heavy political clout.

Wednesday’s announcement was made at a Christmas party for Chilean Palestinians held at Boric’s official residence in the capital, Santiago.

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“It always makes me very angry to look at the Middle East and not see Palestine on the map,” Boric told his guests, in remarks reported in the Chilean press.

“We cannot forget a community that is suffering from an illegal occupation, a community that is resisting, a community that is seeing its rights and dignity violated every day,” Boric continued.

On Friday, Antonia Urrejola, Chile’s Foreign Minister, attempted to dampen the concerns of Israel and the Chilean Jewish community regarding the implications of the move.

“Chile’s foreign policy remains the same — the right of the Palestinian people to establish themselves as an independent state, coexisting in peace with the State of Israel,” she told local news outlet El Mostrador.

Israel’s Ambassador in Santiago, Gil Artzyeli, strongly condemned the move in a post on Twitter.

“In the past decades, the Palestinian leadership has devoted all its resources and efforts to annihilate Israel, including partnering with Hitler, bringing only misery to its people,” Artzyeli wrote. “The idea is not to live in peace alongside Israel but to wipe it off the map. The way out is direct negotiation.”

Last September, the newly-arrived Artzyeli was prevented from presenting his credentials to Boric as part of an official Chilean protest against the death of a 17-year-old Palestinian boy during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank. The meeting subsequently took place on Oct. 1.

Separately, Boric held a reception for the Jewish community on Tuesday to celebrate the Hanukkah holiday, though he refrained from speaking at the event.

Gerardo Gorodischer, the head of the Chilean Jewish community, told reporters afterwards that “the relationship with the president…has been a bit distant, and today we experienced a closeness that is worth recognizing and being thankful for.”

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