Chile is planning to open an embassy in Palestine, President Gabriel Boric announced Dec. 23. Speaking at a private ceremony hosted by the local Palestinian community in the capital Santiago, Boric acknowledged that he is “taking a risk” with the move, but added: “We are going to raise our official representation in Palestine from having a charge d’affaires. Now we are going to open an embassy.” The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately commended the decision, saying it “affirms the principled position of Chile and its president in support of international law and the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state.”
If Chile follows through with the plan, it will join only a handful of other countires that have embassies or diplomatic offices in Palestine. Chile opened a representative office in Ramallah in 1998, and in 2011 recognized Palestine as a state and supported its entry as a member of the United Nations Educational, Cultural & Scientific Organization (UNESCO).
Boric did not say where the new embassy would be located, and the choice could hold symbolic importance. The Palestinian Authority is based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, but looks to East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state. (MEE, Al Jazeera)
The US Congress has meanwhile approved a measure by which the United States can rejoin UNESCO, despite the global body’s recognition of Palestine as one of its 193 member states. At the time of the recognition in 2011, the Obama administration abided by long-standing policy calling for the US to withhold funds from UN bodies that recognize Palestinian statehood prior to the conclusion of a final-status agreement for a two-state solution with Israel. The Trump administration withdrew from the organization altogether in 2019.
The Congressional Omnibus Bill passed on Dec. 22 grants Presdient Biden authority to pay the hundreds of millions in back dues and rejoin the organization. However, to do so, the president must report to Congress that rejoining UNESCO “would enable the US to counter Chinese influence or to promote other national interests of the United States.”
The law also states that the waiver “shall cease to have effect if, after enactment of this act, the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the UN or any specialized agency” outside the context an agreement is reached for a two-state solution. (MEE, Jerusalem Post)
Image: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr