During Monday night’s CNN Townhall, presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT-I) called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “racist.”
Sanders made the comment after a young man asked him about how he plans to maintain the U.S.-Israel relationship with Sanders’ past critiques of Netanyahu, who just won a fifth term.
“You’ve been an outspoken critic of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yet Israel is also one of America’s most important allies in the world. Given that Prime Minister Netanyahu just won another term in office, how do you plan to maintain the strong U.S.-Israel relationship despite those critiques?” the young man asked.
“Look, what I have said over and over again, and I repeat to you, and I happened to— as a young man, at your age— I spent a number of months in Israel. I worked on a kibbutz for a while. I have family in Israel. I am not anti-Israel. But the fact of the matter is that Netanyahu is a right-wing politician who I think is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly,” Netanyahu said to an applauding audience.
“So, you know, what I believe, you know, the United States gives billions of dollars in military aid to Israel,” Sanders added. “What I believe is not radical. I just believe that the United States should deal with the Middle East on a level playing field basis. In other words, the goal must be to try to bring people together and not just support one country which is now run by a right-wing, dare I say, racist government.”
Sanders also added that he is “100 percent pro-Israel” and that Israel has “every right in the world to exist and to exist in peace and security and not be subjected to terrorist attacks, but the United States needs to deal not just with Israel but with the Palestinian people as well.”
Sanders did not attend last month’s American Israel Public Affair Committee’s annual bipartisan Policy Conference, with his spokesman claiming Sanders was “concerned about the platform AIPAC is providing for leaders who have expressed bigotry and oppose a two-state solution.” Leftist organization Move On initially declared victory over the annoucements by several Democratic presidential candidates that they would not be attending the event, but Sanders was the only one who did not attend due to issues with AIPAC, while the others were not invited or had scheduling conflicts, The Daily Wire previously reported.
Last month, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke claimed, “we don’t have the best negotiating partners,” in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. O’Rourke added that Netanyahu “openly sided with racists,” and Palestinian political leader Mahmoud Abbas is “ineffectual,” The Daily Wire previously reported.
In response to Netanyahu’s election victory earlier this month, President Donald Trump claimed that there would be a “better chance” at creating a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
“The fact that Bibi won, I think we’ll see some pretty good action in terms of peace,” Trump said to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Politico reported. “Look, everyone said — and I never made it a promise — but everybody said you can’t have peace in the Middle East with Israel and the Palestinians. I think we have a chance. I think we have now a better chance with Bibi having won.”