(JTA) — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said the United States is “complicit” in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
“[B]ut that is not to say … that Israel is the only party at fault,” Sanders, a Vermont Independent, said in an interview with The Intercept news website published Friday evening.
Sanders also said that “in terms of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the United States has got to play a much more evenhanded role. Clearly that is not the case right now.”
Sanders ran against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in the 2016 election and was the first Jewish candidate to win major party nominating contests. It is not known if he will run again in 2020.
In answer to a reporter’s question, Sanders said he would consider voting to reduce the at least $3 billion in annual aid provided by the U.S. to Israel or reduce U.S. arms sales to the Israeli military.
“The U.S. funding plays a very important role, and I would love to see people in the Middle East sit down with the United States government and figure out how U.S. aid can bring people together, not just result in an arms war in that area,” he said. “So I think there is extraordinary potential for the United States to help the Palestinian people rebuild Gaza and other areas. At the same time, demand that Israel, in their own interests in a way, work with other countries on environmental issues.”
“So the answer is yes,” he concluded.
Sanders in a speech Thursday at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, defended the Iran nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration in 2015.
“We must protect this deal,” Sanders said.