Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks after the senate voted on a resolution ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)
WASHINGTON – Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont raised sharp criticism Tuesday of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a video clip that was broadcast during the American Jewish Committee Global Forum in Washington, Sanders also said that opposing Netanyahu doesn’t make him anti-Israel.
“We must say loudly and clearly that we oppose reactionary policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, [which] does not make anyone anti-Israel,” Sanders said. “Let me say it again. I am vigorously opposed to the reactionary racist and authoritarian policies of [US President] Donald Trump. That does not make me anti-American, and I am not anti-Israel because I oppose Netanyahu’s policies.”
Speaking on the peace process in the Middle East, Sanders said Israel is making significant technological advances that could bring innovation and prosperity for the entire region, yet it is unable to achieve this goal because of its unresolved conflict with the Palestinians.
“And I see [the] Palestinian people crushed underneath a military occupation [that is] now over a half-century old, creating a daily reality of pain, humiliation, and resentment,” he continued. “Let me be clear: I do not know how peace can be achieved in that region, but in the Gaza Strip, poverty is rampant. Fifty-three percent of people are unemployed. The number of unemployed is even higher, but young people at 99% of the residents cannot leave that area. That is not a sustainable situation.”
Sanders added that “ending the occupation and enabling the Palestinians’ 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, and the entire region. It is a necessary step in ensuring that Israel is accepted and integrated into the region.”
The senator said that he does not doubt the political challenges of reaching a solution, yet he still believes that agreements are possible “if there is a serious willingness to sit down and talk and compromise.”
“The truth is that the parameters of a solution are well known,” he said. “They are based in international law. They are based in multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions. And they are supported by an overwhelmingly international consensus. Two states based on the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.”
“Unfortunately, [the] prime minister 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,” Sanders continued. “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 people,” he concluded.
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