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Sanders: Democratic platform must better reflect Palestinian hopes

Jewish presidential candidate backs challenger for Congress seat of DNC chief Wasserman Schultz, who he says unfairly treated his campaign

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, speaks to a gathering of supporters during a campaign rally at the Lexington Convention Center, Lexington, Kentucky, Wednesday, May 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, speaks to a gathering of supporters during a campaign rally at the Lexington Convention Center, Lexington, Kentucky, Wednesday, May 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Seeking to sway policy as any realistic chance of winning the presidential nomination further erodes, Bernie Sanders reportedly wants the Democratic Party to make Palestinian rights more of a priority in its platform.

According to the Washington Post, the Vermont senator wants to see changes that would better reflect Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

Sanders, the only Jewish candidate to ever have won any major party primaries, has throughout the campaign defended Israel’s right to security, but also has called for an end to settlement expansion and criticized what he has said has been Israel’s disproportionate response to Palestinian attacks. He recently came under criticism for claiming that Israel killed 10,000 Palestinians in the last round of fighting in Gaza, a figure that is five times greater than even the Hamas statistics, and one Sanders later walked back.

The Democratic platform as approved in 2012 refers to aspirations for a “just and lasting” agreement that would result in two states. Much of its 300 or so words are otherwise given over to protections for Israel’s security and a demand that Palestinians “recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.”

Its only allusion to longstanding American calls on Israel not to prejudice a two-state outcome through settlement building is “to encourage all parties to be resolute in the pursuit of peace.”

The party platform stirred controversy during the 2012 convention when a vote to insert language affirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was met with boos.

Sanders is currently trailing front-runner Hillary Clinton in delegates and raw votes, with the former secretary of state and first lady appearing to have all but clinched the party nomination.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (photo credit: Courtesy)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Courtesy)

Separately, Sanders told CNN in an interview that he was backing Tim Canova, a primary challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who in her separate capacity as Democratic National Committee chairwoman has feuded with Sanders’ campaign.

Sanders has said the DNC has rigged the election through its administration of its rules and by a debate schedule that at first appeared aimed at burying news coverage with placement in low-viewing time slots.

The DNC added debates and Wasserman Schultz maintained that the rules have been in place for years.

Wasserman Schultz, one of the most prominent Jewish members of the party’s congressional caucus, told The New York Times that she remained neutral in the race between Sanders and Clinton.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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