TEL AVIV – The Israeli government is “right-wing and racist” and the U.S. cannot just support the Jewish state while ignoring the Palestinians, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Tuesday during a CNN town hall event in Las Vegas.
Sanders, currently the front-runner in the race, was asked by a member of the audience, “How do U.S.-Israel relations look under your administration?”
“To be for the Israeli people and to be for peace in the Middle East does not mean that we have to support right-wing, racist governments that currently exist in Israel,” was Sanders’ response which was met with applause.
.@BernieSanders on #CNNTownHall: "To be for the Israeli people and to be for peace in the Middle East does not mean that we have to support right wing racist governments that currently exist in Israel… pic.twitter.com/L3tqrt3pcE
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) February 19, 2020
Sanders also noted the security blockade by Israel and Egypt on Gaza saying he feels “strongly about it as someone who is Jewish and knowing how much our people have suffered over the years.”
He added American foreign policy in the Middle East should be “about bringing the Israelis, bringing the Palestinians together under the banner of justice.”
“We have the wealth to do it,” he said. “And it cannot simply be one that we’re just pro-Israel and we ignore the needs of the Palestinian people.”
Sanders seemed to be referencing President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled peace plan.
He also slammed the U.S.’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, calling its monarchs “murderous thugs.”
“For years we have loved Saudi Arabia, our wonderful ally,” he said wryly.
“The only problem is the people who run that country are murderous thugs.”
Tuesday’s event was not the first time Sanders has called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu racist. In an April 2019 CNN town hall, he said Israel is “now run by a right-wing — dare I say — racist government” that is “oppressive” to the Palestinians.
In December, he again called Netanyahu racist at the fifth Democratic debate.
I'm very proud to be Jewish and I look forward to becoming the first Jewish president in the history of this country. pic.twitter.com/UOPvEomHNE
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 17, 2020