JERUSALEM (Jun. 24)
A group of 28 Knesset members have signed a petition to bar Augusto Pinochet, the former military strongman of Chile, from visiting Israel.
Pinochet, who remains Chile’s military chief of staff after being ousted from the presidency in 1990, is rumored to be planning a visit to Israel that would involve an arms deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Some high-level officials in the Defense Ministry and arms industries are reportedly pressing for the visit. Chile in the past has bought many Israeli weapons.
The protesting Knesset members say they fear a visit by Pinochet, declared an undesirable visitor by most countries except for China, would hurt Israel’s international image.
The former president is still viewed as a threat to Chile’s democratic government, said one Knesset member.
The Israeli government, meanwhile, said there are no official plans for a visit.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said Thursday, “The government of Chile has not approached the government of Israel for an invitation to Pinochet. Therefore, the government has not even dealt” with the matter.