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Trump 'Pandering to His Extremist Base' on Israeli Settlements, Says Bernie Sanders

Sanders was one of a number of critics who saw the Monday announcement that the White House won't treat the settlements as illegal as another attack on the Palestinian people. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during the 2019 J Street National Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. on October 28, 2019.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during the 2019 J Street National Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. on October 28, 2019. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders was among a number of critics decrying the Monday announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the U.S. would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal, a break with longstanding precedent that could ireversibly damage the two-state solution and peace process. 

Sanders, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said in a tweet that it was clear the settlements are illegal and suggested that President Donald Trump was pushing the issue due to pressure from his right-wing supporters. 

"Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base," tweeted Sanders.

Pompeo's announcement was the latest attack on Palestinians from the White House, which has allied itself strongly with Israel and that country's extremist right-wing Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. In June, as Common Dreams reported, audio leaked of Pompeo admitting the administration's peace plans had little chance of passage due to the way they treated the Palestinians.

Brooklyn-based organizer Linda Sarsour, a Sanders surrogate, expressed her anger in a tweet. 

"Not only do Trump and his administration believe they're above the law of THIS LAND, they believe they are above international law by announcing that the 'U.S.' (cause they don't speak for me) doesn't see illegal settlements in Palestine as 'inconsistent with international law,'" said Sarsour. 

The enthusiasm from Pompeo over Monday's change in policy, opined Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi, is likely based in his theocratic Christianity. 

"Another blow to international law, justice, and peace by a Biblical absolutist waiting for the 'rapture,'" tweeted Ashrawi.

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Council on American-Islamic Relations national executive director Nihad Awad, in a statement, concurred.

"It is obvious that Donald Trump's panic over his looming impeachment is motivating him to try to solidify the most extreme parts of his political base," said Awad. "To reject international law and the rights of the Palestinian people who suffer under an illegal occupation contradicts our nation's claimed support for justice and human rights."

The settlements represent a continuation of abusive policies, said Al Jazeera's Sana Saeed.

"This is (continued) land theft, this is (continued) displacement," Saeed said.

IfNotNow co-founder Emily Mayer, in a statement, said it was time for American politicians to speak out against the Trump regime's behavior toward the Palestinians. 

"The time is long gone for toothless statements condemning Israeli actions, which have allowed this crisis to continue unchallenged," said Mayer. "Standing up to the Trump administration's reckless disregard for human rights today also means standing up to decades of Israeli human rights violations by ending our blank check to Israel and defunding the occupation once and for all."

"Israeli settlements are illegal," CodePink's Ariel Gold said on Twitter. "Mike Pompeo is a threat to humankind."

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