IOWA CITY, IOWA, UNITED STATES (APRIL 7, 2019) (NBC) – U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday (April 7), calling him a “racist” and saying his policies were preventing peace in the region.
“The U.S.-Israel relationship is one of the most important relationships we have on the planet and that relationship, if it is to be successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States and it it must be able to transcend a prime minister who is racist as he warns of Arabs coming to the polls who wants to defy any prospect for peace as he threatens to annex the West Bank and who has sided with a far right racist party in order to maintain his hold on power,” O’Rourke told reporters after a campaign stop in Iowa City, Iowa, in response to a question about Mideast conflict.
The comments from the Democratic candidate, who reportedly raised nearly $10 million in the first 18 days of his bid for the presidency, came one day after Netanyahu’s sudden election promise to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term in office as Israel holds national elections on Tuesday (April 9). Settlements, which Israel’s B’Tselem rights group said cover about 10 percent of the West Bank, are one of the most heated issues in efforts to restart peace talks, frozen since 2014.