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Sanders blasts Israeli and Saudi rulers as 'racists' and 'thugs'

Bernie Sanders greets a crowd after a rally in Colorado [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 February, 2020

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The progressive presidential candidate lambasted MBS and Netanyahu, issuing a rallying cry for a more just foreign policy and pledging to mediate the divides in the Middle East.
Bernie Sanders took aim at Middle East heavyweights during a town hall meeting on Tuesday, issuing a take-down of the Saudi and Israeli leadership while vowing to implement a more just foreign policy in the region.

The Democratic frontrunner for the presidential nomination and flag-bearer for the party's progressive wing, said the US had to stop "being really cozy" with "billionaire dictator" Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's crown prince and de facto leader.

"For years, we have loved Saudi Arabia - our wonderful ally; the only problem is the people who run that country are murderous thugs," Sanders said in Tuesday's meeting, televised on CNN.

The long-time Vermont senator said that instead, the US should be a mediating force in the region.

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"We can bring the Saudis and the Iranians together, tell them that we're sick and tired as a nation [of] spending trillions of dollars on endless wars," Sanders said. "They're going to have to get their act together. And we have the resources to help bring that about."

He said he would tell those countries to "get their act together" because the US is "sick and tired [of] spending trillions of dollars on endless wars".

Sanders, who has come first and close second in the first two Democratic primary votes, also lambasted Israel's leadership and reiterated his calls for the US to be more supportive of Palestinians while maintaining Israeli security and independence.

"To be for the Israeli people and to be for peace in the Middle East does not mean that we have to support right wing racist governments that currently exist in Israel," he said. "And let me tell you this also, and I feel strongly about it, as somebody who's Jewish, and knowing how much our people have suffered over the years."

Sanders pointed to the 70 percent unemployment rate and blockade in the Gaza Strip, saying that the US "[has] the wealth" to bring Israelis and Palestinians together and negotiate a more just situation.

"It cannot just simply be a one that we're just pro Israel and we ignore the needs of the Palestinian people," he added.

Sanders won New Hampshire's high-stakes Democratic primary last week, leaving rivals including party stalwart Joe Biden in his wake as he staked his claim to challenge President Donald Trump in November.

Sanders, the, claimed 25.7 percent of votes in the northeastern state, where he previously beat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Indiana ex-mayor Pete Buttigieg netted the second largest vote share with 24.4 percent.

In his victory speech, he called his win "the beginning of the end for Donald Trump".

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