Bernie Sanders Says He Would Consider Cutting U.S. Military Aid to Israel, Improve Ties With Iran

In an interview with left-wing website The Intercept, the former presidential candidate said that the U.S. is complicit in Israel's occupation of the West Bank

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Senator Bernie Sanders arrives to a health care bill news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. September 13, 2017.
Senator Bernie Sanders arrives to a health care bill news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. September 13, 2017.Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said in an interview published Friday that the United States should "play a much more evenhanded role" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that, under certain circumstances, he would consider reducing the yearly $3.1 billion in military aid provided by the U.S. to Israel, part of a record $38 billion package over the coming decade.

Sanders made the comments during an interview on foreign policy to the left-wing website The Intercept. Commenting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sanders said that "the United States is complicit" in Israel's occupation of the West Bank, but immediately added that "it’s not to say that Israel is the only party at fault."

>> Bernie Sanders Meets With Prominent Palestinian Activist Targeted by Israel and Abbas

In the past, Sanders has publicly called to end Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. More recently, however, the independent Vermont senator has spoken out against boycotts of Israel and signed a letter, endorsed by the entire Senate, denouncing the United Nations for its bias against the Jewish state.

In the interview, Sanders said that "in terms of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the United States has got to play a much more evenhanded role. Clearly that is not the case right now.”

When asked if he would "ever consider" a reduction of military aid to Israel, Sanders said "the answer is yes," and provided the following explanation:

"U.S. funding plays a very important role, and I would love to see people in the Middle East sit down with the United States government and figure out how U.S. 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. At the same time, demand that Israel, in their own interests in a way, work with other countries on environmental issues. So the answer is yes.”

Sanders also expressed strong criticism of U.S. foreign policy toward Saudi Arabia.

“I think that one of the areas that we have got to rethink, in terms of American foreign policy, is our position vis-a-vis Iran and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “For whatever reason – and I think we know some of the reasons having to do with a three-letter word called oil – the United States has kind of looked aside at the fact that Saudi Arabia is an incredibly anti-democratic country and has played a very bad role internationally, but we have sided with them time and time and time again, and yet Iran, which just held elections, Iran, whose young people really want to reach out to the West, we are continuing to put them down.”

Sanders continued, "It is not just that many of the 9/11 bombers came from Saudi Arabia. ... What I think is more significant is their continuing to fund madrassas and to spread an extremely radical Wahhabi doctrine in many countries around the world. And they are funding these mosques, they’re funding the madrassas, and they are fomenting a lot of hatred.”

Sanders did concede, however, that there were "legitimate concerns" about Iran's foreign policy, but noted that the United States should choose a more "evenhanded" approach when dealing with the two Islamic religious regimes in Riyadh and Tehran.

When asked if Saudi Arabia is an ally of the United States, Sanders replied: "Do I consider them an ally? I consider them to be an undemocratic country that has supported terrorism around the world, it has funded terrorism, so I can’t. No, they are not an ally of the United States.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott