Bernie Sanders wants Democratic platform to better reflect Palestinian aspirations

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Bernie Sanders wants to make Palestinian rights more of a priority in the Democratic Party platform, according to a report.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that Sanders, the Vermont Independent senator seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, wants to see changes to the platform to better reflect Palestinian aspirations for statehood. 

Sanders, the only Jewish candidate to ever have won major party nominating contests, throughout the campaign has 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.

The 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 trailing front-runner Hillary Clinton in delegates, and the former secretary of state appears to have all but clinched the party nomination.

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 (DNC) chairwoman has feuded with Sanders’ campaign. He also said he would not reappoint Wasserman Schultz as party chair were he elected president.

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 has said the rules were 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.

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