Sanders: It's no longer enough for us to simply be pro-Israel

Democratic presidential hopeful again suggests the US should rethink its policies toward Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

Elad Benari ,

Bernie Sanders at Democratic debate, November 20, 2019
Bernie Sanders at Democratic debate, November 20, 2019

US Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the candidates in the Democratic party’s presidential primaries, on Wednesday once again suggested that the United States should rethink its policies toward Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

Speaking during a televised debate of Democratic presidential candidates, Sanders said, “It is no longer good enough for us to be simply pro-Israel. I am pro-Israel. But we must treat the Palestinian people as well with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

He also called the situation in Gaza “unsustainable,” citing the high levels of unemployment there.

Sanders has come under fire for his statements against Israel, most recently when he told the J Street conference that the US should redirect its aid to Israel and give it to Gaza instead, while calling the Israeli government “racist”.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, criticized Sanders’ comments on Sunday, saying, “Perhaps Mr. Sanders didn’t hear about Israel leaving Gaza in 2005. Maybe he hasn’t had the chance to visit the Kerem Shalom crossing, where hundreds of trucks pass daily to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza. Maybe he doesn’t know about the terror tunnels.”

Danon added the Vermont Senator “is suggesting to give less military assistance to the United States’ most important ally in the Middle East in order to give it to Hamas, a terrorist organization that celebrated the tragedy of 9/11.”

Sanders’ comments were also criticized by Nikki Haley, the former US Ambassador to the UN.

“Just when you thought Bernie Sanders couldn’t get any more radical, he outdid himself. He wants to take money we give to Israel to defend itself from terrorists, and give it to Gaza, which is run by terrorists?? Unreal. Why isn’t every other Dem pres candidate saying he’s wrong?” tweeted Haley.

In August, Sanders said the US cannot prioritize the wants and needs of Israel over all else if it wants to help bring peace to the Middle East.

Last year, he criticized Netanyahu and his policies, saying, "As someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel's right to exist... we must say loudly and clearly, that to oppose the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu does not make us anti-Israel."