This article was originally published on Jewish Insider.
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Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Sunday voiced support for Israel’s right to defend itself after her opponent Bernie Sanders called Israel’s 2014 military campaign in Gaza “disproportionate.”
“When your soldiers are under attack, you have to respond,” Clinton told CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday’s “State of the Union” program. “Hamas provokes Israel. They often pretend to have people in civilian garb acting as though they are civilians who are Hamas fighters. It’s a very different undertaking for Israel to target those who are targeting them.”
The former secretary of state refused to call out Sanders for his misstatements, but emphasized, “Israel has had to defend itself, has a right to defend itself.”
Sanders, appearing on the same program, doubled down on his claim that Israel’s response was “disproportionate.”
“Was Israel’s response disproportionate? I think it was,” Sanders said. “Israel has a 100 percent — and no one will fight for that principle more strongly than I will — has the right to live in freedom, independently, and in security without having to be subjected to terrorist attacks. But I think that we will not succeed to ever bring peace into that region unless we also treat the Palestinians with dignity and respect, and that is my view.”
Notwithstanding the criticism over his expressed views, Sanders insisted that his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “balanced.”
“It is interesting that the first Jew in American history to win a delegate, much less a primary, is taking this position with Israel,” Tapper told Sanders. “Usually in American politics, everyone just supports Israel whatever Israel wants to do, but you are taking a more critical position.”
“I’m taking a more balanced position,” Sanders replied.
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