Chilean president announces plans for embassy in Palestine

Santiago, Dec 22 (EFE).- President Gabriel Boric said that Chile will upgrade the status of its diplomatic mission in Palestine to an embassy before his term ends in 2026.

“One of the decisions we have made as a government – I believe that we have not made it public, I’m taking a risk with this – is that we will elevate the character of the official representation in Palestine,” he said during the annual Christmas celebration of CD Palestino, a soccer club found in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants.

“We cannot forget a community that is suffering under an illegal occupation, a community that is resisting, a community that is seeing its rights and its dignity violated every day,” he said Wednesday night in Santiago’s Las Condes district.

Chile, which is home to the world’s largest Palestinian population outside the Middle East, opened a representation office in the West Bank city of Ramallah in 1998.

While a number of nations recognize Palestine as a state, neither the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah nor the Hamas government in Gaza exercises real sovereignty over territory as Israel maintains absolute control over the movement of goods and people.

Boric’s center-left government endured a diplomatic spat with Israel in September after the president refused to accept the credentials of the new Israeli ambassador to protest the death of a Palestinian youth in a confrontation with Israeli troops in the West Bank.

“In the face of suffering we cannot be indifferent nor can we be protocol-bound,” Boric said at the Christmas gathering. “Protocol often makes sense, but when exaggerated it ends up denuding of sense the moments in which it is most essential.”

Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola held a press conference Thursday to offer additional details of the project for an embassy in Ramallah.

“The person who currently represents Chile in Palestine does have the rank of ambassador,” she said. “What we are going to do is the elevate the level of the office.”

Santiago will also “establish an honorary consulate in Bethlehem, one of the principal areas of origin of the Palestinian community in Chile,” the foreign minister said.

Regarding how the Israeli government might react to those moves, Urrejola said that the administration follows a “positive agenda with Israel.”

Last week, she added, Boric received Israeli diplomats at the presidential palace.

“The important thing is that the State of Israel as well as the Jewish community understand that this is part of foreign policy,” Urrejola said. “We continue to recognize both states and also the right of both states to exist securely and in peace.” EFE mfm/dr

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