Sanders: Take the Palestinians into account too

Democratic presidential candidate says he supports Israel’s right to exist, but stresses the Palestinians must also be considered.

Elad Benari,

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders
Reuters

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Sunday emphasized that he believes in Israel’s right to exist, but also said that in order to achieve peace in the Middle East, the United States would have to take the Palestinian Arabs into account as well.

“I am 100 percent pro-Israel in the sense of Israel's right to exist, I lived in Israel, I have family in Israel, Israel has the right to live not only in peace and security, but to know that their very existence will be protected by the United States government,” Sanders told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

“On the other hand,” he continued, “I think if we're looking at lasting peace in the Middle East, the United States has got to respect the needs of the Palestinian people. They cannot be pushed aside. So that is my view. And, you know, other people can say whatever they want. That is my view.”

Asked by host Chuck Todd whether he would like the Democratic party’s platform to refer to the Palestinians as “an occupied people”, the Vermont senator replied, “We're a little bit early about worrying about the wording of what the Democratic platform will be. We've got some good people on our platform-writing committee. But I think at the end of the day, there will be a general recognition by the entire Democratic convention, that of course Israel's right to exist in peace and security is not in debate.”

“But on the other hand, the Palestinian people's needs must also be respected,” he stressed, adding, “I have the feeling that while the media wants to make this into a great conflict, I think there's going to be broad consensus within the Democratic convention on that issue.

The comments come a week after The Washington Post reported that Sanders wants to make "Palestinian rights" more of a priority in the Democratic Party platform.

Sanders, the only Jewish candidate to ever have won major party nominating contests, has throughout the campaign defended Israel’s right to security, but also has called for an end to "settlement expansion", and has criticized what he has said has been Israel’s "disproportionate response" to Palestinian terrorism.

His grasp of the facts vis-a-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict were recently called into question after he falsely claimed Israel killed "10,000 innocents" during its 2014 war with Gazan terrorist groups. 

He previously accused President Barack Obama of not being on the Palestinians’ side enough.

"I think he’s done much better than his predecessors, but I still think we have a ways to go," Sanders said, indicating that he views Obama as being too supportive of Israel.




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