Netanyahu Slams Sanders’ AIPAC Comments as ‘Libelous’
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday described as “libelous” an assertion by US Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders that AIPAC provides a platform for those who express “bigotry” and “oppose basic Palestinian rights.” Netanyahu made his comments while addressing the pro-Israel lobbying group’s annual conference in Washington by satellite connection. While the prime minister had been relatively mum on the controversy, he pulled no punches in slamming the current Democratic frontrunner’s statement as “outrageous.” The best way to respond, Netanyahu stressed, “is to do what you have done – by gathering in Washington today, in full force, as Democrats and Republicans.… You send a great message to all those who seek to weaken [the US-Israel] alliance: That they will fail.” During a debate last Tuesday ahead of the South Carolina primaries, Sanders took aim directly at the Israeli prime minister. “What I happen to believe is that right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country,” Sanders said, referring to the Israeli leader by his nickname. Sanders and most other Democratic candidates are not attending this week’s AIPAC summit, which traditionally is considered a must on the campaign trail for those seeking to enter the Oval Office.