Minister Tzachi Hanegbi.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
"We condemn statements like that made by [US Senator Bernie] Sanders, which was really strange," Tzachi Hanegbi, a minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's outgoing cabinet and senior member of his conservative Likud party, told Israel's Reshet 13 TV. The comment came in response to a statement by Bernie Sanders on Tuesday calling Netanyahu racist.
"The Israeli government is not a racist government, nor does it include a single racist minister," the regional cooperation minister said.
"To be right wing is not illegitimate and it is odd that the Democratic Party allows one of its senior members to not respect the democratic choice of the State of Israel."
Hanegbi cast his own remarks as specific to Sanders rather than any more generalized criticism of the Democratic Party.
Asked whether Israel risked being seen in the United States as a country championed by Republicans, he said: "We make every effort to avoid this danger because, indeed one of Israel's greatest advantages over all the years was the ability not to get caught up in the political dispute between the parties."
U.S. Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic, studies show, a trend that political analysts say has also contributed to a degree of grassroots disconnect between the allies since Trump's rise. Sanders is himself Jewish and, in his CNN appearance, noted his past visits to, and relatives living in, Israel.
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