Netanyahu is 'racist' and wants to 'defy' peace prospects - O'Rourke
Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "racist" whose outreach to far-right interests as he seeks to hang on to political power has seriously damaged the chances of peace in the Middle East.
Speaking at a town hall at the University of Iowa, the former Texas congressman denounced Mr Netanyahu's pledge that he would annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins another term in today's Israeli general election. Mr Netanyahu's proposed annexation, Mr O'Rourke said, "will make peace in the long term impossible".
In response to a voter's question about his policy toward Israel and Palestinian rights, Mr O'Rourke reiterated his support for a two-state solution and accused Mr Netanyahu of having "joined forces with far-right parties who are inherently racist in their speech and the way that they want to treat their fellow human beings in that part of the world".
He then went further, telling reporters in a gaggle afterward that Mr Netanyahu is a "racist".
"The US-Israel relationship is one of the most important relationships that we have on the planet, and that relationship, if it is to be successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States, and it must be able to transcend a prime minister who is racist as he warns about 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," Mr O'Rourke said.
His comments came one day after US President Donald Trump played up his pro-Israel agenda in a speech before an influential conservative Jewish group. Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition, in Las Vegas, Mr Trump accused Democrats of "advancing by far the most extreme, anti-Semitic agenda in history". "The Democrats' radical agenda very well could leave Israel out there all by yourselves," Mr Trump said.
As he seeks to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister, Mr Netanyahu has played up his ties to Mr Trump, who has all but formally endorsed the Israeli leader ahead of today's election. (© Washington Post)