Then. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Threatened Tuesday to use billions of dollars in aid to Israel as a "leverage" to fight what he called the Jewish state's "racism" while going so far as to compare the US-Israel alliance with its relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Sanders, one of the leading candidates in the Democratic presidential primary race and an increasingly vocal critic of the Netanyahu government, said during a New Hampshire City Hall event that the United States should take a broader view of the Middle East – and the Israeli-Palestinian the conflict in particular – and not always with Israel.
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"The US government gives a lot of money to Israel, and I think we can use that money to end some of the racism as we have recently seen in Israel, ”he said.
Sanders compared the situation with the US alliance with Sau di Arabia, which he called "a corrupt, murderous regime" despite being "good comrades of us" while opposing Iran.
"You can criticize both," he said.
When it comes to the absence of a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Sanders made it clear that he does not blame only one side.
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"The problem is not everything with Israel, you have very bad and corrupt Palestinian leadership, but what the US goal must be is to gather people in the region, Palestinians and Israelis to create a kind of functioning peace that works for both parties, not just one. "
This echoed what the self-proclaimed democratic socialist said in July on the podcast" Pod Save America, "saying:" Our politics can not just be pro-Israel, pro-Israel, pro-Israel. It must be a pro-region that works with all people, all countries in that area. “In that segment, Sanders also compared Saudi Arabia and suggested using aid as leverage.
If elected, Sanders would be the first Jewish president. As such, he insisted at the New Hampshire event that opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government is not anti-Semitic.
The Democratic Party has recently struggled with how to frame criticism of the Israeli government, with some lawmakers accusing members as ropes. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., To use anti-Semitic language to suggest that Israel supporters in America be bought. She and Congress allies have also compared boycotts of Israel with boycotts of Nazi Germany.
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The US Department of State recently updated its definition of anti-Semitism to include, "Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli politics against the Nazis."
Sanders has not used such language. But his allegations that the Netanyahu government is racist have drawn punishment from the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC, which tweeted earlier this year: "Naming political leaders against the democratically elected government in Israel is counterproductive for maintaining close ties and promoting peace. "
Fox News & # 39; Dom Calicchio contributed to this report.