US Senator Bernie Sanders, a leading candidate to be the Democratic presidential candidate, slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "racist" yesterday.
According to reports, Senator Sanders (I-Vt.) made the remarks during a Democratic debate amongst 2020 presidential candidates that covered a wide number of issues.
When asked specifically about how he would manage relations with Israel and the Palestinians, Sanders struck a very different tone to many of the Democratic party mainstream.
"Israel has the right not only to exist, but to exist in peace and security," said Sanders, noting how he had "lived in Israel as a kid" (a reference to his time on a kibbutz), and is "proudly Jewish".
OPINION: The pro-Israel lobby is on the decline; let's help it on its way
However, Sanders continued by declaring that "what US foreign policy must be about is not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian as well."
The candidate added some biting criticism of the Israeli premier.
"We must understand that right now in Israel we have leadership who has been indicted for bribery, who, in my view, is a racist," said Sanders, referring to Netanyahu's corruption charges.
Sanders's position on Israel is often seen as a reflection of his own base, which includes activists and party members drawn from the left-wing of the Democratic party, where criticism of Israel, and support for Palestinians, have both increased in recent years.