Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he would consider voting to reduce U.S. aid and weapons to Israel, the politician said Wednesday.
There is a strong role for the U.S. to play in helping rebuild Gaza and Palestine, Sanders, an Independent, told The Intercept. This may very well include decreasing aid to Israel.
“The U.S. 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 U.S. aid can bring people together, not just result in an arms war in that area,” Bernie said. “So I think there is extraordinary potential for the United States to help the Palestinian people rebuild Gaza and other areas. At the same time, demand that Israel, in their own interests in a way, work with other countries on environmental issues.”
“So the answer is yes,” Sanders added, in response to a direct question about whether he would vote to reduce aid and U.S. arms sales to Israel.
In the past, progressives have criticised Sanders for having too favorable a policy stance towards Israel. This is out of step with the normal line of his pro-Palestinian base, but overall, Sanders has played a careful balance between the two sides during his political career.
As recently as April, Sanders brushed off the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and has blasted the United Nations for exhibiting an anti-Israel agenda.
On the other hand, Sanders has knocked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and attacked Israel for occupying the West Bank and Gaza territories. Sanders view on the relationship between U.S. aid and Israel is more complex, especially because U.S. aid and weapons sales enables Israel to continue its occupation.
“Certainly the United States is complicit, but it’s not to say … that Israel is the only party at fault,” Sanders said, adding: “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.”
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