Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders announced on Sunday he would boycott the AIPAC annual conference which is scheduled for next week.
“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference,” he tweeted.
“As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region,” he added.
Sanders was one of several Democratic presidential hopefuls who declined to speak at last year’s AIPAC conference, but he previously said he would not object to attending this year’s conference.
His statement follows that of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who indicated she would skip the AIPAC conference and did not push back against questionable assertions about the lobby.
Former US Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, rejected pressure to skip the conference, saying, “No, because I’m there to convince. Convince them to change their position.”
Sanders has repeatedly criticized the Israeli government, most recently last week when he asserted that it is racist.
In response to a question on how US-Israel relations would look under his administration, Sanders replied, "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."
Sanders further said, “What American foreign policy has got to be about in the Middle East is bringing the Israelis, bring the Palestinians together under the banner of justice. We have the wealth to do it. It cannot just simply be that we’re just pro-Israel and we ignore the needs of the Palestinian people. We’ve got to pay attention to both.”