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Sanders: U.S. Should Withhold Military Aid Unless Israel ‘Fundamentally Changes’ Relationship With Gaza

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during the Democratic presidential candidates debate in Westerville, Ohio, October 15, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has earned endorsements from Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., NY), and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich), supporters of an Israel boycott, said during the annual J Street national conference on Monday that the U.S. should “leverage” military aid to Israel in order “to demand respect for human rights and democracy.”

“My solution is to say to Israel: you get $3.8 billion dollars every year, if you want military aid you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza,” Sanders said. “In fact, I think it is fair to say that some of that should go right now into humanitarian aid in Gaza.”

The U.S. has agreed to give Israel a massive military-aid package. The latest aid package was approved by the Obama administration and commits to giving Israel $38 billion in military aid to Israel over 10 years. The memorandum of understanding for the aid runs through 2028.

Sanders denounced the situation in Gaza as “absolutely inhumane,” “unacceptable,” and “unsustainable.” He also criticized President Trump and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “One is going to be impeached, the other one may end up in jail, so I don’t know how much credibility they have, actually in terms of integrity.”

“The Palestinian people have a right to live in peace and security as well. It is not anti-Semitism to say that Netanyahu’s government has been racist,” Sanders continued.

The Gaza strip is run by the terrorist organization Hamas, which in May launched nearly 300 rockets into Israel. In July, Hamas official Fathi Hamad told Palestinians that “there are Jews everywhere! We must attack every Jew on planet Earth — we must slaughter and kill them, with Allah’s help. Enough warming up!”

Sanders’s remarks drew criticism from prominent conservatives, including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who last year defended Israeli “restraint” in clashes with Palestinian protestors.

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