Bernie Sanders slams America's overfriendliness with Israel, wants 'carte blanche' aid to Netanyahu regime scrapped
The Vermont senator said that Washington should instead leverage its foreign aid to Israel worth $3.8 billion a year to bring change in its behavior. Critics say Sanders is too rooting for 'quid pro quo'.
Democratic presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders’s dislike for Israel is not unknown. In August, the Vermont senator slammed the Benjamin Netanyahu government as “racist” and called its approach towards the Palestinian people as “oppressive”. About the current US administration’s over-friendly stance towards Israel, Sanders said if he is elected as the president, Washington will see a more sympathetic policy towards the Palestinians.
On Monday, October 28, Sanders was at it again. Speaking at the national J Street Conference, Capitol Hill, where a number of other Democratic candidates also spoke on the issue of American aid to Israel, the 78-year-old said the US should leverage its foreign aid against Israel to bring change in its behavior.
"We have a right to say to the Israeli government that the United States of America and our taxpayers and our people believe in human rights, we believe in democracy, we will not accept authoritarianism or racism. And we demand the Israeli government sit down with the Palestinian people and negotiate an agreement that works for all parties,” Sanders said.
"I would use the leverage. $3.8 billion is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government or for that matter to any government at all. We have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy," the veteran added. He also called Israel’s current policy in Gaza as “inhumane” and “unsustainable”.
Last year, the Senate passed a measure that saw codification into law $38 billion in defense aid package for the Jewish state over a period of 10 years that was negotiated towards the end of the Barack Obama administration. The US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 gave the aid package the imprimatur of the Congress that would stop any president from backtracking. The deal that was negotiated in 2016 remains the most generous ever to Israel.
Now, Sanders accused of 'quid pro quo'
Critics hit back at Sanders saying his proposal was nothing less than “quid pro quo”, a term which has gained momentum in recent times over the president’s alleged seeking of help from Ukraine to make personal political gains in lieu of aid. The Democrats have gone to the extent of launching an impeachment inquiry into Trump after a whistleblower complaint surfaced against him trying to influence Kiev to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden. Sanders has supported the impeachment initiative.
Sanders received the strongest ovation at the event where the two other Democratic frontrunners -- Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden -- were not present as they declined invitations to the three-day event that drew some 4,000 people. The veteran, who said in summer that the US’ policy has to be pro-region and not pro-Israel, was recently endorsed by a number of members of the ‘Squad’ who also have a strong stand against Israel.