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Chile's new president backs Palestine, accuses Israel of 'genocide'

"We are monitoring what is happening in Ukraine... However, there are a lot of other regions that witness other scourges – Palestine, for example," Boric said

March 21, 2022 2:34pm

Updated: March 21, 2022 2:34pm

Earlier this month, 36-year-old Chilean leftist Gabriel Boric was sworn in as president, bringing what many fear could be the end of a free-market era as the Andean nation struggles to deal with ever mounting social and economic pressures.

After besting free-market candidate Jose Antonio Kast in a presidential runoff election in December of last year, 36-year-old former student leader took the oath of office at the congressional building in Valparaiso, the headquarters for the Chilean National Congress since 1990, Chilean outlets reported.

"Before the Chilean people, I make my pledge," he said before a crowd of about 500 people.

Although Boric’s victory represents a major revival for Chile's progressive left, it is also a turning point for Chile’s relationship with Israel and the Middle East and analysts fear that Boric’s first speech signal that relations between Santiago and Jerusalem are in unchartered territories.

During his inaugural address, Chile’s new president was quick to bring up the Palestinian cause while condemning Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

"We are monitoring what is happening in Ukraine, such as the attack on a children's hospital in Mariupol or the attack that targeted a military base 20 kilometers from Poland. We sympathize with the Ukrainian people because of the war,” he said during his first interview on Chile’s Canal 13.

“However, there are a lot of other regions that witness other scourges – Palestine, for example. Nonetheless, we see little solidarity," he added, calling on the international community to show solidarity with Palestine as it has with Ukraine. "Palestine has been occupied for a long time, and we do not know much about what is happening there.”

But Boric’s anti-Israeli rhetoric is not new and the 35-year-old has publicly called Israel a “genocidal” and “murderous” state on more than one occasion.

According to a report from Israel Hayom, after the local Jewish community in Santiago presented Boric with a traditional Rosh Hashana gift of honey in 2019, the young politician took to Twitter to respond saying, “The Jewish community gave me honey to emphasize its commitment to a more accepting, supportive and respectful society.”

"I thank you for the step, but you can start by demanding that Israel return the Palestinian territory it occupies illegally," his tweet continued.

Similarly, when asked by reporters about anti-Israeli positions he expressed during the student protests in 2011 and again during the mass protests in 2019, Boric said his beliefs remained unchanged.

"All the countries that violate international law, such as Israel, China, or Turkey, should respect international norms. It doesn't matter how much power that country has, we need our foreign policy to defend human rights with all its might, regardless of the government," Boric told the interviewer.