Bernie Sanders ‘Lacks Understanding’ of Israel, Says Kahol Lavan Co-leader Yair Lapid

Kahol Lavan co-leader Yair Lapid, who openly aspires to be Israel’s next foreign minister, said Sunday that he was “very worried” about Bernie Sanders’ frontrunner status in the race for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination. 

Sanders, Lapid said in an interview with i24news, was “completely wrong” to say that some of the money used by the United States for military aid to Israel should be sent to Gaza instead. 

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 64

Bernie, Bibi and the brutal occupation: Listen to Gideon LevyHaaretz Weekly Ep. 64

“Things Senator Sanders has said about Israel” reflect the Jewish Vermont politician’s “lack of understanding of our unique situation in the Middle East,” said Lapid, speaking the day after Sanders’ sweeping victory in the Nevada caucuses shot him to a clear lead in the Democratic race, and a week before Israelis are set to go to the polls in their national election.  

Lapid, who heads together with Benny Gantz the biggest party competing against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, repeatedly qualified his comments with concern that his views could be interpreted as foreign involvement in a U.S. election – which he strenuously emphasized was not his intention.

“I will not interfere with an American election or an American primary that is in process – it’s not the right thing to do,” he said. “We will try and work with whoever is elected by the American public.”

Lapid’s interviewer, i24news anchor Jeff Smith, noted that even as the interview was taking place, rockets were falling on Gaza and pressed Lapid as to whether he believed that Sanders and his desire to “slash” U.S. aid was “bad for Israel” and whether he was “afraid” of his possible election. 

Lapid repeated that he felt it would be “wrong” for him to elaborate further on what it was about Sanders’ positions that concerned him.