Sanders: US cannot 'ignore the needs of the Palestinian people'

Presidential hopeful describes Israeli government as 'right-wing' and 'racist', calls for balanced Middle East policy.

    Sanders said the US has to be more even-handed in its approach to the Middle East [Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP]
    Sanders said the US has to be more even-handed in its approach to the Middle East [Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP]

    Senator Bernie Sanders says the United States must be "pro-Palestinian" as much as "pro-Israeli" and described the Israeli government as "right-wing" and "racist".

    Speaking during a televised town hall meeting in Nevada on Tuesday, the Democratic frontrunner for the US presidency said: "To be for the Israeli people and to be for peace in the Middle East does not mean that we have to support right-wing, racist governments that currently exist in Israel".

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    Sanders also spoke about the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip, where the youth unemployment rate is about 70 percent.

    "Take a look at what's going on in Gaza right now. You got youth unemployment, 70 percent, you know people can't even leave the area," he said.

    "What American foreign policy has got to be about in the Middle East is bringing the Israelis, bringing the Palestinians together under the banner of justice."

    Sanders said: "It cannot just simply be that we're just pro-Israel and we ignore the needs of the Palestinian people."

    "We've got to pay attention to both and by the way, it's not a dissimilar situation with regard to Iran and Saudi Arabia. For years, we have loved Saudi Arabia, our wonderful ally. Only problem is the people run that country are murderous thugs," he said.

    The social democrat senator said instead of "being really cosy" with "the billionaire dictator", Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Washington should to facilitate a dialogue between Iran and the kingdom to end their proxy wars in the Middle East.

    "We can bring the Saudis and the Iranians together. Tell them that we're sick and tired as a nation, spending trillions of dollars on endless wars, they're gonna have to get their act together, and we have the resources to help bring that about," Sanders said.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News