Sanders: US Complicit in Israel’s Occupation, but Israel ‘Not Only Party at Fault’

Sanders: 'We are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity,' (Photo: via CNN)

US Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has said that “the US is complicit” in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, but also added that Israel is not “the only party at fault”, in an interview with the Intercept last month.

Sanders, who has been criticized by pro-Palestinian activists for largely dismissing the Israeli issue, opened up on US foreign policy in the region, stating that the Trump administration had a responsibility to be balanced in addressing the conflict: “In terms of Israeli-Palestinian relations the United States has got to play a much more even-handed role. Clearly that is not the case right now.”

He also expressed his support for decreasing the $3 billion worth of annual US aid granted to Israel, but emphasized that it was the use of funding that was the more important element in fostering relations.

“The US funding plays a very important role, and I would love to see people in the Middle East sit down with the United States government and figure out how US aid can bring people together … So I think there is extraordinary potential for the United States to help the Palestinian people rebuild Gaza and other areas.”

This is not the first time Sanders has expressed support for Palestinians living under occupation. In February the senator spoke at a conference organized by J Street, an advocacy group aiming to advance Israeli-US interests and a two-state solution, and called for an end to the 50-year-long occupation of the West Bank.

During the Democrat presidential candidate debate in 2016 he also questioned the blind US support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling fellow senator Hillary Clinton that: “There comes a time when … we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”

However, more recently Sanders has expressed his opposition to the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign of Israeli products and services, and in April, signed his name to a controversial letter attacking the UN for allegedly having an “anti-Israel agenda”.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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