Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders characterized Hamas as “terrorist, corrupt, authoritarian” Sunday, while maintaining that the U.S. needs to employ what he claims is an “even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
“You have made the case that how the U.S. government responds in this ceasefire period says something about President Biden’s commitment to human rights more broadly,” John Dickerson, the show’s host, said.
“Do you think the administration is being an apologist for the Netanyahu government?” Dickerson asked Sanders.
The senator responded by citing a statistic on poverty and unemployment in Gaza and underscoring the “incredible suffering” of the local population.
“[A]fter the Israeli attacks, you have wastewater plants destroyed, clinics destroyed, hospitals destroyed. I think the United States has got to develop a even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Sanders said.
“We have to be pro-Israel, but we have to be pro-Palestinian,” the senator added. (RELATED: ‘I Was Just Canceled’: AP Journalist Fired For Anti-Israel Comments)
Dickerson then invoked Sander’s bill that would stall the sale of weapons to Israel and asked if the senator would propose similar conditions for the U.S. aid to Palestinians to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from the funds.
“Absolutely,” Sanders replied. “Look, Hamas is a terrorist, corrupt, authoritarian group of people, and we have got to stand up to them.”
“But once again, our job is not simply to put more and more military support for Israel. It is to bring people together, and we can’t do it alone,” he added.
The host went on to mention that the characterization of Israel’s actions towards Palestinians as “apartheid” is becoming increasingly common on the left.
“Do you think those who share your view should not use that kind of language?” Dickerson asked.
“Well, I think we should tone down the rhetoric,” Sanders said in response.
“I think our goal is very simple. It is to understand that what’s going on in Gaza today is unsustainable when you have 70% of the young people unemployed, when people cannot leave the community, when hospitals and wastewater plants have been destroyed. That is unsustainable. And the job of the United States is to bring people together,” Sanders concluded.