Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein attacked Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders yesterday, saying that the Vermont senator should “stop talking nonsense”.
Sanders additionally stated that he believed the $3.8 billion in annual military assistance could be “leveraged” to pressure Israel to move towards a two-state solution.
Taking to Twitter, Edelstein – a senior member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party – said that in a meeting with European Union (EU) officials on Monday, he “told them about the absurd claims regarding the economic situation in the Gaza Strip”.
“It’s time to put an end to these claims,” he added.
Edelstein continued by claiming that Hamas leaders in Gaza “have all the necessary means” but “use the money earmarked for the public benefit in order to attack the State of Israel”.
“When someone says there are no means, I don’t accept it,” Edelstein said.
“Every time he sees a Hamas rocket launched towards Israel,” Edelstein told the EU diplomats, “I see food and diapers and medicine flying in the air.”
US relations with Israel, including the question of military aid, has been part of recent discussions amongst Democratic presidential candidates. Sanders, for his part, declared Monday:
My solution is, to Israel, if you want military aid you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza
adding that the situation in the blockaded enclave is “absolutely inhumane. It is unacceptable. It is unsustainable”.
He continued by noting that Israel is granted “a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government, or for that matter to any government at all. We have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy.”