Sen. Bernie Sanders told a CNN town hall in Las Vegas on Tuesday that if elected president his foreign policy would prioritize justice and peace in the Middle East and not reflexively back Israel against the Palestinians.
"What American foreign policy has got to be about in the Middle East, is bringing the Israelis and bringing the Palestinians together under the banner of justice," said Sanders. "We could do it, we have the wealth to do it. It cannot just simply be that we're just pro Israel and we ignore the needs of the Palestinian people."
The senator also said his administration would call on Saudi Arabia and Iran to set aside their differences and find common ground.
.@BernieSanders on #CNNTownHall: "To be for the Israeli people and to be for peace in the Middle East does not mean that we have to support right wing racist governments that currently exist in Israel... pic.twitter.com/L3tqrt3pcE— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) February 19, 2020
"It's so refreshing to hear this," said Brookings Institute fellow Shadi Hamid. "Listen to the whole thing. This is what moral clarity on the Middle East sounds like."
The comments by Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate, received praise from progressives who welcomed the Vermont senator's straight talk about his left-leaning ideals.
"I have never heard a major U.S. presidential candidate talk like this in my life," tweeted The Intercept's Mehdi Hasan.
"I've said it before and I will say it again," Hasan added. "Yes, a President Sanders would be a radical change from the 'norm' on domestic policy but he'd be a really really really radical change from the 'norm' on U.S. foreign policy!"
Citing the applause received by Sanders after his comments, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft vice president Trita Parsi said that Sanders was speaking to a large and growing feeling on the part of the U.S. electorate.
"The politics of these issues have changed dramatically precisely because the American people are sick and tired of endless war," said Parsi.