Chile to open embassy in Palestinian territories, says president

Reuters file photo
Chile’s President Gabriel Boric addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2022.

SANTIAGO, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Chile plans to open an embassy in the Palestinian territories, President Gabriel Boric said late on Wednesday, which could make the Andean country one of only a handful to have an embassy-level office in the territories that are contested with Israel.

Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola confirmed the plan on Thursday but said there was no timeline in place yet and that Chile continues to recognize both Palestine and Israel as legitimate states.

Leftist Boric, who has repeatedly expressed support for the Palestinian people’s demand for an independent state, made the comments at a private ceremony in Santiago hosted by the city’s important Palestinian diaspora.

“I am taking a risk (saying) this… we are going to raise our official representation in Palestine from having a charge d’affaires; now we are going to open an embassy,” Boric said, without giving details on where the embassy would be located.

A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy in Chile said it would not be making a public statement on the matter.

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside of business hours.

The Palestinian territories, which Palestinians want recognized as a state, encompass the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and contest control over East Jerusalem. Israel captured those areas in a 1967 Middle East war and there have been regular clashes since.

The West Bank has experienced some of the worst levels of violence in more than a decade this year, much of it concentrated around Nablus and the nearby city of Jenin, with at least 150 Palestinians and more than 20 Israelis killed.

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian combatant in clashes near a flashpoint site on Thursday, underlining the continuing violence in the occupied West Bank that will confront Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s incoming government.

Netanyahu has secured a coalition with religious and ultranationalist partners who oppose Palestinian statehood and want to extend Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Chile’s Boric said the embassy was meant to give Palestinians the representation they deserve and to demand that “international law be respected.”

In September, Boric postponed receiving the credentials of Israel’s new ambassador to Chile after Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager. Israel criticized the decision, saying it “seriously” harmed bilateral ties.

Chile’s Boric receives Israeli ambassador credentials after diplomatic tussle