RNA - Sanders announced last week he would skip AIPAC’s annual policy conference, saying the pro-Israel lobby group provides a platform for “leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights."
Sanders is the second Democratic presidential candidate to say he will not be attending the AIPAC conference, which will take place in Washington on March 1-4. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren also said earlier this month that she would not attend.
At the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday in South Carolina, Sanders described Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “reactionary racist” and said he may reverse US President Donald Trump’s order to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN and a member of Netanyahu's Likud Party, denounced Sanders on Sunday as the four-day AIPAC conference got underway.
"We don't want Sanders at AIPAC. We don't want him in Israel," Danon said.
"Anyone who calls our prime minister a 'racist' is either a liar, an ignorant fool, or both," Danon said.
Sanders, who would be the first Jewish US president, has been a sharp critic of Netanyahu for his policies toward Palestinians. He has also called for reducing American foreign aid to Israel and redirecting it to the Palestinians instead.
Sanders has also been a relentless critic of Trump, repeatedly calling him a liar and the “most dangerous president” in US history.
Since Trump took power, the number of new homes approved for construction in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinians territories has tripled, the AFP reported on Friday, citing Peace Now, an Israeli nonprofit group that opposes the settlements.
Netanyahu pledged on Sunday to annex more parts of the occupied West Bank “within weeks” if he is voted to another term in Israel’s elections on Monday.
Netanyahu was particularly emboldened in annexing more Palestinian lands by Trump in January, when the US president unveiled his self-proclaimed “deal of the century” during an event at the White House alongside the Israeli premier.
The so-called Trump peace plan recognizes Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allows the regime to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley, among other controversial terms.