Bernie Sanders: Israel Has Right to Exist, But Netanyahu Is ‘Racist’

PBS NewsHour/POLITICO

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said during the Democrat debate in Los Angeles on Thursday evening that he believed Israel had a right to exist, but that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a “racist.”

PBS moderator Yamiche Alcindor asked Sanders whether he would make U.S. aid to Israel contingent on prohibiting the expansion of Israeli settlements in areas claimed by Palestinians.

Sanders responded:

Israel has — and I say this as somebody who lived in Israel as a kid, [I’m] proudly Jewish –Israel has the right to exist, not only to exist, but to exist in peace and security. But what — [light applause] — but what U.S. foreign policy must be about is not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian as well. [Loud applause] And whether — in my view, we must understand that right now in Israel we have leadership under Netanyahu, who has recently, as you know, been indicted for bribery, who, in my view, is a racist. What we need is a level playing field in terms of the Middle East, which addresses the terrible crisis in Gaza, where 60% or 70% of the young people are unemployed. So what my foreign policy will be about is human rights, is democracy, bringing people together in a peaceful way, trying to negotiate agreements, not endless wars with trillions of dollars of expenses.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg claimed that President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel policies were the outcome of “domestic politics” in the U.S., and claimed Trump was trying to interfere in Israeli domestic politics. He mocked Trump for claiming to be “pro-Israel” and “pro-Jewish,” while allegedly “welcoming white nationalists into the White House.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden said that there was no possible solution in the Middle East other than a two-state solution, adding that what Netanyahu was doing — without specifying — was “outrageous.” He added: “We have to put pressure constantly on the Israelis to move to a two-state solution.” But he said he opposed withdrawing aid for Israeli security.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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