Bernie Sanders Says He Hopes Netanyahu Loses

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is currently the indisputable front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a convention of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Monday, April 8, 2019, in Las Vegas
AP Photo/John Locher

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is quieting critics who questioned whether he could recapture the energy of his upstart 2016 campaign, surpassing his rivals in early fundraising and establishing himself as an indisputable front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders is also wading into Israeli politics.

Sanders criticized Netanyahu for his vow to being annexing parts of the West Bank, telling NBC News that he "hopes he loses his election."

"When election time comes in Israel, he always tries going even further to the right by appealing to racism within Israel, I think it's unfortunate," Sanders said following a town hall in Iowa Tuesday. "I'm not a great fan of his, and, frankly, I hope he loses his election."

Less than two months into his second White House bid , no other declared candidate in the crowded Democratic field currently has amassed so many advantages: a $28 million war chest, a loyal and enthusiastic voter base and a set of clearly defined policy objectives.

Sanders joined South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in criticizing Netanyahu.  Buttigieg who is considered a supporter of Israel, wrote in reply to Netanyahu’s annexation statement: “This provocation is harmful to Israeli, Palestinian, and American interests. Supporting Israel does not have to mean agreeing with Netanyahu’s politics. I don’t. This calls for a president willing to counsel our ally against abandoning a two-state solution.”

Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke also piled onto Netanyahu, saying, “the U.S.-Israel relationship is one of the most important relationships that we have on the planet. And that relationship, if it is to be successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States, and it must be able to transcend a prime minister who is racist.”

O’Rourke criticized Netanyahu for the second time in weeks over “warning that Arab voters are going to the polls” — a reference to Netanyahu’s infamous video on election Day in 2015.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., campaigning in Nevada, a key caucus state, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that she was unhappy with Netanyahu’s West Bank announcement but also emphasized her pro-Israel credentials.

“I’m for the two-state solution and I don’t favor what Netanyahu did this weekend,” she said. “I don’t favor the annexation; I think we should have a two-state solution.”

The Associated Press and Jewish Telegraph Agency contributed to this report