Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has suggested Israel should now decline the billions of dollars it receives in U.S. aid in the wake of its ban on Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering the country.
“I wish I could tell you that I am shocked, I am not,” the Democratic presidential candidate said on Thursday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “All In” about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to bar the lawmakers, which was encouraged and supported by U.S. President Donald Trump.
The Muslim congresswomen, who are members of “the Squad” that Trump has feuded with in recent weeks, had planned to highlight the plight of Palestinians on their trip. They were barred over their support for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“We have a president who tragically is a racist, is a xenophobe and who is a religious bigot,” said Sanders. “But the idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which by the way we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, is clearly an outrage.”
“And if Israel doesn’t want members of the United States Congress to visit their country, to get a first-hand look at what’s going on, and I have been there many, many times, but if he doesn’t want members to visit maybe he can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel,” he added.
Sanders also doubled down on his proposal to leverage financial aid the U.S. gives to Israel. “All that I am saying is that we need a Middle East policy which is even-handed, which protects the independence and the safety of Israel, but also shows respect to the Palestinian people, many of whom in Gaza and elsewhere are suffering incredibly,” he explained.
“I think what the United States should be doing, especially with the enormous amounts of money we’re spending there, is to demand that Israel and the Palestinian leadership sit down and start working out their differences and create peace in that troubled region,” Sanders added.
Check out the interview above.