Bernie Sanders Criticizes Israeli Government for Treatment of Palestinians

Sanders said the U.S. must be a friend to Israel and to the Palestinian people.

During his remarks, which he described as the speech he would have given had he chosen to attend the powerful political lobby’s event today, the senator called the U.S. and Israel long-term friends but said that because of that special relationship they were “obligated to speak the truth” to each other.

“That is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times. Our disagreements will come and go, and we must weather them constructively,” he said.

The senator spoke at length about the need for Israel to end “disproportionate” responses to being attacked. He talked specifically about the escalated violence in 2014. He strongly objected to Hamas' positions against Israel and condemned the group’s “indiscriminate rocket fire” into Israeli territory, but then he pivoted to Israel’s actions as well.

“Let me also be very clear: I -- along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counterattacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps. Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover,” he added.

Sanders has consistently been a strong advocate for a two-state solution in the region, but so far has shied away from details on the topic on the campaign trail. His speech was especially noteworthy given the much more forceful defense of Israel lodged by Clinton, his primary opponent, today.