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Bernie Sanders on Israel’s Ban of Omar and Tlaib: Maybe They Should Decline the ‘Billions and Billions’ US Gives Them

Independent Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders came out strong in defense of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) over Israel’s decision to deny them entry, saying that perhaps the Israeli government should “respectfully decline” the “billions and billions” of aid from the United States.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump attacked and smeared Omar and Tlaib while pressuring the Israelis to deny them entry, shortly after which the Israeli government announced it was doing just that.

Sanders was asked about Israel’s decision on Thursday night’s edition of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, guest-hosted by Ali Velshi.

“What’s your reaction to President Trump asking the president of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, to do this, and Netanyahu obliging?” Velshi asked.

“Well I wish I could tell you, Ali, that I am shocked. I am not,” Sanders said, adding “We have a president who tragically is a racist, is a xenophobe, and who is a religious bigot.

“But the idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which, by the way, we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, is clearly an outrage,” he continued. “And if Israel doesn’t want members of the United States Congress to visit their country to get a first hand look at what’s going on, and I’ve been there many many times, but if he doesn’t want numbers to visit, maybe he can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel.”

“Over time, in excess of $140 billion, last year alone $3 billion in various types of aid,” Velshi remarked. “You’ve actually suggested that that might be used to leverage some of his real behavior that represented Omar and Tlaib are critical of, as you have been critical of.”

At a town hall meeting in New Hampshire Tuesday, Sanders suggested the United States could leverage aid to Israel “to end some of the racism that we have recently seen in Israel.”

“Right, all that I am saying is that we need a middle East policy which is even-handed,” Sander said to Velshi. “Which protects the independence and the safety of Israel, but also shows respect to the Palestinian people, many of whom, in Gaza and elsewhere, are suffering incredibly, unemployment rate off the charts, people cannot leave their community.”

“And what I think that the United States should be doing, especially with the enormous amount of money we’re spending there, is to demand that Israel and the Palestinian leadership sit down and start working out their differences, and create peace in that troubled region,” Sanders said.

Since then, Israel has granted Tlaib permission to visit, provided she does not express support for boycotts against the Israeli government.

Watch the clip above, via MSNBC.

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