Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has recently had a spate of anti-Israel comments, and on Sunday he continued the streak as he said US President Barack Obama has not been far enough on the Palestinians' side.
In an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC, Sanders was asked about his debate with frontrunner Hillary Clinton last Thursday, in which he attacked Israel for taking "disproportionate" measures in defending itself from Hamas terrorists in 2014 Operation Protective Edge.
Stephanopoulos showed a clip from the debate in which Sanders called for the US to take an "evenhanded" approach vis-a-vis Israel and the Palestinians, and then asked, "do you (see) that kind of evenhanded approach under President Obama?"
"I think he’s done much better than his predecessors, but I still think we have a ways to go," Sanders replied, indicating that he views Obama as being too supportive of Israel.
That statement comes despite the open hostility Obama has been criticized for showing Israel on several key occasions, such as during Protective Edge when he canceled a routine Hellfire missile shipment in the middle of the war and ordered greater scrutiny on future weapons transfers to Israel.
Sanders continued discussing his comments in the debate, saying, "I was not criticizing President Obama; I was criticizing (former) Secretary (of State) Clinton. She gave a speech to AIPAC. It was a long speech. There was only one sentence I believe that even mentioned the Palestinians.”
In her AIPAC speech, Clinton slammed the Palestinian leadership for actively inciting terrorism and paying rewards to the families of terrorists. However, her stance on the conflict has been viewed as troubled by many as well – in her latest debate with Sanders she called for a two-state solution establishing a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, even while noting how Israel's 2005 withdrawal from Gaza left Hamas in control.
Sanders said Sunday that Israel has a right to exist, but "you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. And longterm, the only way we bring peace to that region…"
He was cut off by Stephanopoulos, who asked, "do you think Secretary Clinton has ignored the suffering of the Palestinian people?"
"Well, I think if you listen to her (AIPAC) speech, that was the major speech, she had one line on the Palestinian people. I think that Israel has every right in the world to respond to terrorism, but I think in the Gaza it was a disproportionate response," he said.
Sanders then once again condemned Israel for the casualties in Protective Edge, claiming Israel killed 1,500 civilians and another 10,000 were wounded.
"And you can’t just always nod your head to (Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu. He is wrong on occasion,” Sanders added.
The Protective Edge death toll came up two weeks ago when, in an interview, Sanders falsely claimed that Israel killed 10,000 "innocent people" during the operation. The actual total was just over 2,000, and roughly half of the dead were terrorists in a near unheard of combatant to civilian ratio. Facing backlash, Sanders inexplicably denied he made the claim.
In the interview Sunday, Stephanopously cited an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) statement condemning Sanders' comments because they "play into the hands that Israel is the main problem in this conflict."
"I didn't say Israel is the main problem," responded Sanders, with emphasis on the word "main" indicating that he does indeed view Israel as a problem.
“All I am saying is that you cannot ignore the needs of the Palestinian people," he added.
He then spoke of mass destruction in Gaza, without noting it was caused by Hamas' third terror war against Israel, or how the Hamas terrorist government been exploiting its civilians ever since Israel unilaterally withdrew in the 2005 Disengagement plan. Hamas is actively siphoning off humanitarian goods to strengthen its terrorist infrastructure.
Sanders' staff choices have also given an indication of the approach he would take towards Israel if elected.