Israel’s right to exist in peace and security will be a general recognition by the entire Democratic convention and not be up for debate, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sought to assure Jewish Democrats and voters concerned about his appointees to the Democratic Party’s Policy Platform Committee.
“I am 100 percent pro Israel in the sense of Israel’s right to exist,” Sanders said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday. “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.”
Last week, Sanders appointed three Israel critics, Rep. Keith Ellison, Cornel West and James Zogby, to help draft the party’s platform ahead of the convention in Philadelphia. West, a BDS supporter, and Zogby, a pro-Palestinian activist, have both said they would seek changing the party’s policy on Israel, a policy that shows more sympathy for the Palestinian side of the conflict.
On Meet the Press, Sanders said his view is that the United States “has got to respect the needs of the Palestinian people. They cannot be pushed aside, and “other people can say whatever they want.” When pressed, Sanders wouldn’t indicate what he wants the platform to say other than saying, “We’ve got some good people on our platform-writing committee.”
Addressing concerns within the party over a possible floor debate on the issue, Sanders promised that 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. I think there’s going to be broad consensus within the Democratic convention on that issue.”
The Hillary Clinton campaign insisted that the 2016 platform will reflect the party’s longstanding strong support for Israel. “The Democratic Party has always, in the platform, reflected longstanding, strong support for Israel. I don’t expect that to change,” Wendy Sherman, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and a foreign policy advisor to Clinton, told Jewish Insider on Friday. “I believe that everybody is in strong support for Israel’s security and I think that Secretary Clinton views about the importance of Israel’s security and the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel is something that is held by all Democrats.”