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Bernie Sanders: 'I'd consider cutting US military aid to Israel'

The senator calls for 'a much more even-handed' American role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Former US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has said that under certain circumstances, he would consider supporting a reduction in the yearly $3.1 billion in military aid provided by America to Israel.

    Interviewed by left-wing website The Intercept, the senator said America was "complicit" in Israel's occupation of the West Bank, adding immediately that "it’s not to say that Israel is the only party at fault". He wanted the US to "play a much more even-handed role" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Clearly that is not the case right now.”

    Expanding on his answer about military aid, Mr Sanders said: "I would love to see people in the Middle East sit down with the United States government and figure out how US aid can bring people together, not just result in an arms war in that area. I think there is extraordinary potential for the United States to help the Palestinian people rebuild Gaza and other areas. [And] at the same time, demand that Israel, in their own interests in a way, work with other countries on environmental issues." 

    Although the senator has, in the past, called for an end to Israel's occupation of the territories, he has more recently spoken out against boycotts of Israel and signed a letter denouncing the United Nations for bias against Israel.

    Mr Sanders has been reluctant to discuss his roots, but told the New Yorker in a 2015 interview that growing up in a less-than-wealthy Jewish family had instilled in him the idea that politics mattered.

    An Orthodox Jewish friend quoted in the piece said of him: "He's not what you would call rule-observant, but if you talk about his Jewish identity, it's strong."

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