Washington (QNN)- US Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) said on Friday that he would “absolutely” consider using US. aid as leverage to get ‘Israel’ to end abuses against the Palestinians’ human rights.
“We are giving large sums of money,” Sanders said in an interview with “Pod Save America,”. “Let me back it up before the tweets start flowing,” said the Democratic hopeful. “I lived in Israel. I worked in a Kibbutz for a number of months. I have family in Israel. I am Jewish. I am not anti-Israel. I believe that the people of Israel absolutely have the right to live in peace, independence and security – end of discussion.
“But I think what has happened is, in recent years under Netanyahu you have an extreme right-wing government with many racist tendencies. The role of the United States – and this is not easy – is to try to finally bring peace to the Middle East and to treat the Palestinian people with the kind of respect and dignity they deserve.”
Known as a fierce critic of Netanyahu, Sanders said that “Our policy cannot just be pro-Israel, pro-Israel, pro-Israel. It is got to be pro-region working with all of the people, all of the countries in that area. What we need to do is not say we’re 100% pro-Israel or 100% pro-Saudi Arabia. We hate Iran; we hate the Palestinians. That is not the role that the United States of America should play.”
“You got to bring people together and say, you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money, not only in aid to Israel, to Egypt. We have spent trillions of dollars on the war on terror, and I, as president, would like to sit down in a room with the leadership of Saudi Arabia, with the leadership of Iran, with the leadership of the Palestinians, with the leadership of Israel, and hammer out some damn agreements, which will try to end the conflicts that exist there forever.”
Sanders said in an interview with journalist Robert Costa at a Washington Post event earlier this month, he would “probably not” move the US embassy in Israel back from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
Costa asked Sanders if he would move the embassy back. Sanders replied: “Probably not,” adding, “it would be part of a broader discussion of how we bring peace to the region.”
“Israel, 100 percent, must have the right to exist in peace and security, and not be subjected to terrorist attacks,” Sanders said. “Palestinian people also have the right to live in peace and security.”
The Vermont senator has a decidedly mixed record on Palestinian rights. He stated his opposition to the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions movement while speaking out against legislation backed by the Israel lobby aimed at thwarting BDS.
In 2014, Sanders notoriously defended Israel’s assault on Gaza that killed 2,200 Palestinians, including 550 children.
By 2018, however, Sanders was putting out videos highlighting the horrific impact of Israel’s siege and violence against Palestinians in Gaza.
With each step he takes supporting Palestinians and their basic human right, Sanders seems forced to take ten steps backward. That is a clear sign that Sanders is feeling grassroots pressure to support Palestinian rights.