Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Sunday said that the Israeli government has “overt racists” and once again said that the US administration should change its approach towards Israel.
Speaking to CBS’ “Face the Nation”, Sanders was asked about an op-ed he wrote for The New York Times in which he said the US must stop being an apologist for the Netanyahu government. The interviewer, John Dickerson, asked Sanders whether he thinks the administration is being an apologist for the Netanyahu government.
“I think the United States has got to develop an even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have to be pro-Israel, but we have to be pro-Palestinian. And I hope and believe the president understands that. And I was delighted to see that he is moving forward to try to rebuild with the international community, the destruction- rebuild Gaza after all of that destruction,” replied Sanders.
Dickerson then asked the Vermont Senator how one has an even-handed approach to terrorists who want to destroy Israel.
“Well, what you have got to do is also understand that over the years, the Netanyahu government has become extremely right wing and that there are people in the Israeli government now who are overt racists. You have in West Jerusalem people being evicted from their homes. Tremendous pressure on people within Israel, the Arab community, as well as Gaza. So you have a very difficult situation. You have Hamas, a terrorist group. You have a right-wing Israeli government, and the situation is getting worse. And all that I'm saying is that the United States of America has got to be leading the world in bringing people together, not simply supplying weapons to kill children in Gaza,” said Sanders.
On the legislation he introduced blocking a $735 million weapons sale to Israel, the Senator said, “Look, Hamas is a terrorist, corrupt, authoritarian group of people, and we have got to stand up to them. But once again, our job is not simply to put more and more military support for Israel. It is to bring people together, and we can't do it alone. We need the international community. But that's what I think we need to be doing.”
Sanders, who is Jewish, has criticized Israel’s policies in the past. He recently responded to the Muslim Arab riots and violence against Jewish civilians, tweeting that Israel should not evict residents of Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
"The United States must speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward," Sanders wrote in the tweet.
Last month, Sanders said that the United States should be able to determine how Israel uses the aid it gives to the state, and should restrict aid in response to moves that would undermine the peace process.
Last year, he added his name to a letter by Democrats against Israel's plans to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
In 2019, Sanders caused an uproar when he told the J Street conference that the US should redirect its aid to Israel and give it to Gaza instead.
Despite all these, he has refuted claims that he is anti-Israel and insisted that he is simply advocating for a foreign policy “that not only protects Israel, but deals with the suffering of the Palestinian people as well.”