WASHINGTON – Three of the leading presidential hopefuls criticized US President Donald Trump policy in the Middle East as well as the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the sixth Democratic debate that took place in Los Angeles on Thursday. PBS News Hour and Politico organized the debate.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was asked about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent announcement that the settlements are not illegal, and said that as somebody who lived in Israel, he believes that Israel has the right to exist in peace and security.

However, regarding US foreign policy, “It’s not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian, as well.”

Sanders added that the US should understand that right now, “Israel is under the leadership of Netanyahu, who has recently been indicted for bribery, who in my view, is a racist.”

He called to address “the terrible crisis in Gaza where 60 or 70% of the young people are unemployed,” adding that his foreign policy would promote human rights and democracy.

Former vice president Joe Biden said that President Trump is “no longer being an honest broker in Israel,” and called promote the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “There’s no solution for Israel other than the two-state solution,” he said. “It does not exist. It’s not possible to have a Jewish state in the Middle East without there being a two-state solution.”

“[Trump] has played to all the same fears and all the prejudices that exists in this country and in Israel,” Biden continued. “Bibi Netanyahu and I know one another well. He knows that I think what he’s doing is outrageous. What we do is we have to put pressure constantly on the Israelis to move to a two-state solution.”

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said that “what we are seeing in the Middle East and around the world are the consequences of this president’s failure. This president’s refusal to lead.”

“It’s particularly disturbing in the case of Israel because he has infused domestic politics making US foreign policy choices in order to effectively interfere in Israeli domestic politics,” he continued. “Acting as though that somehow makes him pro-Israel and pro-Jewish while welcoming white nationalists into the White House,” said Buttigieg.

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