President Biden will meet with Chilean President Gabriel Boric even as the South American leader’s government recalls its diplomats from Israel, a measure several countries have initiated.
The leaders will have a bilateral meeting Thursday to discuss a range of topics, with climate change and ‘irregular migration’ chief among them, according to a White House announcement late last month.
There are seemingly no plans — at least publicly — for the two leaders to discuss the Middle East crisis, which grows increasingly severe as Israel continues to carry out operations in the Gaza Strip following a Hamas terrorist attack Oct. 7 that killed 1,400 Israelis.
‘President Biden should take the opportunity to address Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza with President Boric who, like other left-leaning leaders in Latin America, has taken a very anti-Israel public stance,’ Emanuele Ottolenghi, senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies who focuses on U.S.-Latin America relations, told Fox News Digital.
Ottolenghi lamented that Chile, Colombia and Bolivia’s diplomatic protests have unnecessarily escalated tensions internationally, especially as the countries did not condemn Hamas following the Oct. 7 attack.
The Latin American nations, did however respond strongly to IDF (Israel Defense Forces) incursions in Gaza, most notably when the IDF bombed the Jabalia refugee camp Tuesday, killing Hamas commander Ibrahim Biari, whom the Israelis claimed was hiding at that camp. Israeli forces repeatedly warned Palestinians to evacuate the camp in recent days due to the presence of Hamas operatives.
The IDF insisted Biari ‘oversaw all military operations in the northern Gaza Strip since the IDF entered’ and that he was ‘also responsible for sending the terrorists who carried out the 2004 terrorist attack in the Ashdod Port’ as well as directing rockets toward Israel.
Chile, Bolivia and Colombia have all recalled their ambassadors from Israel, with Chile’s Boric accusing Israel of committing ‘unacceptable violations of international humanitarian law.’ Boric particularly highlighted what he said was the ‘collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza’ due to the high number of civilian deaths — many of them said to be women and children — during Israel’s operations.
Colombia’s left-wing president Gustavo Petro called Israel’s operations a ‘massacre’ and likened Israel’s actions to those of the Nazis, a comparison that drew a sharp response from Israel’s foreign ministry, The Guardian reported.
Israel’s foreign ministry responded by demanding Chile and Colombia condemn Hamas, saying it expects the countries to stand by Israel and support its right to defend its citizens and not Venezuela and Iran, which ‘support Hamas terrorism.’ The ministry noted citizens of Chile and Colombia are among the victims of the Hamas attack, Israeli news agency TPS reported.
The Israel-Hamas war aside, Ottolenghi noted the importance of U.S.-Chile relations, which stretch back 200 years, and that climate and environmental issues remain a paramount concern as South America finds itself increasingly at the center of international issues due to the continent’s rich rare earth mineral resources – key components for producing electronic devices, processor chips and electric car batteries.
He warned, though, that Chile is increasingly finding itself as a key figure in the international tug-of-war between the U.S. and its rivals, particularly China and Iran. He explained that China has pursued ‘aggressive’ policies in Latin America to secure better access to rare earth minerals, including an agreement with Bolivia to mine the country’s rich lithium resources.
‘Chile is a repository of one of the world’s largest reserves of lithium, which is essential to President Biden’s green transition agenda,’ he explained. ‘Moreover, Chile has serious water problems that can be addressed through new technologies. This is an area where the U.S. and Chile can work together. Biden understands the United States needs to respond to China’s growing economic influence in Latin America,’ he said.
The State Department and National Security Council did not respond to Fox News Digital requests for comment by time of publication.
Andrea Vacchiano and Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.