Skip to main content

Bernie Sanders slams Saudi Arabia over lack of support for Gaza

'Do something meaningful about it,' Sanders says, addressing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Sanders condemns Israel's blockade on Gaza (AFP/ file photo)

US Senator Bernie Sanders slammed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday for failing to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Speaking at the conference of J Street, a liberal Jewish group that describes itself as pro-Israel and pro-peace, Sanders called out Saudi Arabia for its lack of support for Palestinians.

"I say to the crown prince and the other multi-billionaire leaders in the region, stop just talking about the poverty and distress in Gaza, do something meaningful about it," Sanders said.

"I heard the other day that the Saudi king pledged $50 million to UNRWA, the UN agency that works with Palestinian refugees. Fifty million dollars is not a small sum of money, but let us not forget that it is ten percent of what the crown prince paid for a yacht."

The crown prince, who claims to be leading a campaign against corruption in his country, has been criticised for his lavish spending, including the purchase of a $450m Leonardo da Vinci painting last year.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


During a US tour earlier this month, bin Salman announced deals worth billions of dollars with American companies.

Sanders, a former presidential candidate who has become a leading figure in US left-wing politics, also denounced Israel for its deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters in Gaza.

He said Israel "massively overreacted" to Palestinian protests over the past month, adding that the presence of Hamas members at protesters does not justify shooting unarmed demonstrators.

"Frankly it’s amazing to me that anyone would find that point controversial," he said.

Israeli forces have shot dozens of Palestinians, including children and journalists, since Gazans started demonstrating on 30 March.

At least 34 Palestinians have been killed and 2,000 injured since the protests started.

The progressive lawmaker also condemned Israel for its "the inhumane blockade of Gaza".

The United Nations has said that the Palestinian enclave of two million people, where youth unemployment is over 60 percent, is becoming "unlivable".

At the J Street conference on Monday, former national security adviser Susan Rice also slammed the Israeli government for being "hostile to a two-state solution".

She said US President Donald Trump has made the difficult situation in Israel and Palestine "even worse".

Trump's so-called "deal of the century" to solve the conflict has been rejected by Palestinians.

"It's highly unlikely that the administration will put forward the kind of bridging proposal that can help get a solution," said Rice.

Palestinian Ambassador to Washington Husam Zomlot, who also spoke at the conference, said the Palestinian Authority is committed to the two-state solution but would not abandon Jerusalem.

"No state without East Jerusalem, and no state without resolving the issue of refugees," he said.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.