2020 Democrats

Bernie Sanders: Criticizing Netanyahu doesn’t make me anti-Israel

"We must say loudly and clearly that to oppose the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu does not make anyone anti-Israel"

Gage Skidmore

Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with supporters at a campaign rally for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Central High School in Phoenix, Arizona November 6, 2016

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) defended his harsh criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in remarks delivered via video at the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

“As someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, who was a young man who lived in Israel for a number of months, as someone who is deeply concerned about the global rise of antisemitism, we must say loudly and clearly that to oppose the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu does not make anyone anti-Israel,” Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate said.

“Let me say it again,” Sanders stressed, “I am vigorously opposed to the reactionary, racist and authoritarian policies of Donald Trump. That does not make me anti-American, and I am not anti-Israel because I oppose Netanyahu’s policies.”

Addressing his support for a two-state solution as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sanders said: “Unfortunately, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies seem to be preparing for a future in which Israel controls the entire territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River in perpetuity, and the Palestinians receive limited autonomy within a disconnected series of communities. That is not an acceptable outcome for anyone who supports the security, freedom and self-determination of both peoples.”

Sanders called for, as he has in the past, an end to the “occupation” of the Gaza Strip, a return to the 1967 borders and Jerusalem as a shared capital of two, independent states.

“Ending that occupation and enabling the Palestinian’s to have independence and self determination in a sovereign, independent, economically viable state of their own, is in the best interest of the United States, Israel, Palestinians in the entire region,” Sanders said.

“It is a necessary step in ensuring that Israel is accepted and integrated into a region that has so much to offer. We should not downplay the political challenges of reaching a solution and I am more than aware that there is enough blame to go around on all sides. While the peace process will be very difficult, agreements all possible if there is a serious willingness to sit down and talk and compromise.”

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