Minister Tzachi Hanegbi condemned Democratic Party presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday for describing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government as racist over its treatment of Palestinians.
Addressing a CNN event alongside other Democratic candidates on Monday, Vermont senator Sanders said he was “100 percent pro-Israel” but proposed changing U.S. policy toward it.
“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,” Sanders said, adding that Netanyahu “is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly.”
“We condemn statements like that made by Sanders, which was really strange,” Hanegbi, a minister in Netanyahu’s outgoing cabinet, told Israel’s Channel 13.
“The Israeli government is not a racist government, nor does it include a single racist minister,” the minister said.
“To be right-wing is not illegitimate and it is odd that the Democratic Party allows one of its senior members to not respect the democratic choice of the State of Israel.”
Hanegbi cast his own remarks as specific to Sanders rather than any more generalized criticism of the Democratic Party.
Asked whether Israel risked being seen in the United States as a country championed by Republicans, he said: “We make every effort to avoid this danger because, indeed one of Israel‘s greatest advantages over all the years was the ability not to get caught up in the political dispute between the parties.”