Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Sunday that he would consider withholding military aid to Israel in order to bring the country in line with what he perceives to be U.S. interests.
The Vermont senator, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, said that he would “absolutely” weigh aid cuts as a way of exercising “leverage” on Israel.
“Our policy cannot just be pro-Israel, pro-Israel, pro-Israel,” Sanders said. “It has got to be pro-region, working with all of the people, all of the countries in that area.”
He emphasized, however, that he believed in Israel’s “absolute” right to peace and security.
“I have family in Israel. I am Jewish. I am not anti-Israel,” he said. “Okay, I believe that the people of Israel have, absolutely, the right to live in peace, independence and security. End of discussion—that is what I fervently believe.”
In April 2016, Sanders was one of 17 senators who did not sign a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to increase aid to Israel.
In 2017, Sanders recorded a five-minute video for a Meretz conference on “50 Years of Occupation” in which he said, “I know so many of you agree with me when I say: this occupation must end. Peace, real peace, means security not only for every Israeli, but for every Palestinian. It means supporting self-determination, civil rights and economic well-being for both peoples.”