Gabriel Boric, who called Israel a 'murderous state', wins presidential run-off in Chile

Gabriel Boric, who called Israel a 'murderous state', wins presidential run-off in Chile
Palestinian solidarity groups welcomed the election of Chile's next president Gabriel Boric, who has openly criticised illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine.
3 min read
21 December, 2021
Boric campaigned on the promise of increasing taxes and social spending to tackle Chile's yawning gap between rich and poor [Getty]

Chile has elected Gabriel Boric, a left-wing former student protest leader with a track record of being fiercely critical of illegal Israeli settlement in occupied Palestine, as its youngest-ever president.

The 35-year-old - who called Israel a "murderous state" - has previously campaigned for a boycott of goods, services and products from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  

His victory over far-right opponent Jose Antonio Kast, in which he clinched 56 percent of the vote in a record turnout, has been hailed as a triumph for the global left and a step in the right direction for the international pro-Palestine movement. 

"Israel has been granted impunity by the world’s governments for decades," said Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, to The New Arab. 

"This in defiance of the shift in global popular opinion and international civil society, that has increasingly called for meaningful action to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law and Palestinian rights. The election of a leader with a track record of calling for sanctions is to be welcomed." 

As a lawmaker, Boric supported a draft bill in Chile's National Congress calling for a boycott of exports from illegal Israeli settlements. 

On receiving a gift of honey from Chile's Jewish community in 2019, attached with a note calling for "a more inclusive supportive and respectful society", the leftist politician said in response: "I appreciate the gesture but they could start by asking Israel to return the illegally occupied Palestinian territory."  

During his campaign, Boric called Israel a "murderous state" in a meeting with the Jewish community. 

He has also signed a pro-Palestine statement of support in a meeting with the president of Chile's 350,000 strong Palestinian community, reportedly the largest Palestinian community outside the Arab world. 

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Boric, set to become one of the youngest presidents in world history, won 56 percent of the vote with his leftist coalition against ultra-conservative candidate Kast. 

Boric said he wanted to create a "welfare state" in the country crippled by economic inequality since the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. 

"We have an enormous challenge. I know that in the coming years, the future of our country is at stake, so I guarantee that I will be a president who cares for democracy and does not risk it," Boric said in his victory speech Sunday. 

His supporters celebrated on the streets until the early hours of Monday, waving rainbow LGBTQ flags and shouting "Viva Chile!"

Turnout in Sunday's election was the biggest in Chile since voting became voluntary in 2012, with more than 55 percent of the country's 15 million eligible voters heading to the polls, according to the Servel election body. 

Pundits claim Boric's success can be attributed to the mobilisation of younger progressive voters who want to see a change in their country and across the world.