Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Monday outlined his Middle East policy, calling for the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Sanders had declined the AIPAC’s invitation to speak at its policy conference, but last week told AIPAC he would provide the text of the speech he would have given if allowed to do so remotely. In that speech, he said he would work “tirelessly” toward a two-state solution, as a friend to both Israel and the Palestinians. He also said, “The path toward peace will require tapping into our shared humanity to make hard but just decisions.”
I am here to tell the American people that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel.
But to be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high.
So when we talk about Israel and Palestinian areas, it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.
Sanders said compromises would be necessary on both sides.
Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all people of Israel’s right to exist. It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel.
Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel.
Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence and terrorism.
But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.
Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza … Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza.
Discussing the effort to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, Sanders said the United States has to play an important role, but also called for a regional coalition.
What I am saying is that the major powers in the region – especially the Gulf States – have to take greater responsibility for the future of the Middle East and the defeat of ISIS.
What I am saying is that countries like Qatar – which intends to spend up to $200 billion to host the 2022 World Cup – Qatar which per capita is the wealthiest nation in the world – Qatar can do more to contribute to the fight Against ISIS. If they are prepared to spend $200 billion for a soccer tournament, then they have got to spend a lot spend a lot more against a barbaric organization.
What I am also saying is that other countries in the region – like Saudi Arabia, which has the 4th largest defense budget in the world – has to dedicate itself more fully to the destruction of ISIS, instead of other military adventures like the one it is pursuing right now in Yemen. …
Bottom line is the countries in the region – countries which by the way are most threatened by ISIS – they’re going to have to come together, they’re going to have to work out their compromises, they are going to have to lead the effort with the support of the United States and other major powers in destroying ISIS.
Sanders praised the agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms, and said if Iran doesn’t live up to the agreement, “we should re-impose sanctions and all options are back on the table.”
Going forward, I believe we need a longer-term vision for dealing with Iran that balances two important objectives.
First, we must counter the destabilizing behavior of Iran’s leaders.
But secondly we must also leave the door open to more diplomacy to encourage Iranian moderates and the segments of the Iranian people – especially the younger generations – who want a better relationship with the West. While only a small step in the right direction, I was heartened by the results of the recent parliamentary elections in which Iranian voters elected moderates in what was, in part, a referendum on the nuclear deal.
To read Bernie Sanders’ remarks in full, click here.