Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders described the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “racist,” during his Monday night town hall on CNN.
“You’ve been an outspoken critic of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, yet Israel is also one of America’s most important allies in the world. Given that Prime Minister Netanyahu just won another term in office, how do you plan to maintain the strong U.S.-Israel relationship despite those critiques?” asked Shelly Tsirulik, a Harvard student in the audience.
“As a young man about your age, I spent a number of months in Israel. I worked on a kibbutz for a while. I have family in Israel. I am not anti-Israel but the fact of the matter is that Netanyahu is a right-wing politician who, I think, is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly,” he began.
“So what I believe is the United States gives billions of dollars in military aid to Israel. What I believe is not radical. I just believe that the United States should deal with the Middle East on a level playing field basis. In other words, the goal must be to try to bring people together and not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing, dare I say, racist government.”
Netanyahu won a highly-contested general election in Israel earlier this month, paving the way for him to serve an unprecedented fifth term. (RELATED: Linda Sarsour Defends Rep. Omar’s Israel Comments)
The day before Israel’s election, Sanders said, “I’m not a great fan of [Netanyahu], and, frankly, I hope he loses his election.”
The Vermont senator was not the only presidential candidate to express dislike for Netanyahu prior to the election.
“I don’t think Benjamin Netanyahu represents the true will of the Israeli people or the best interests of the U.S.-Israel relationship, or any path to peace for the people of the Palestinian Authority, the Gaza Strip, and the state of Israel,” former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said.