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Transcript: Sen. Bernie Sanders on "Face the Nation," March 10, 2024

Sanders: "No more money to Netanyahu's war machine"
Sen. Bernie Sanders: "No more money to Netanyahu's war machine to kill Palestinian children" 07:42

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, that aired on March 10, 2024.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning and welcome to Face The Nation. We are coming off a big week in politics. But there are challenges ahead, particularly with the war between Israel and Hamas reaching a critical point as the holy month of Ramadan begins. And we turn now to that crisis in the Middle East and renewed fears of violence in Jerusalem. I do want to note that we have an extensive bipartisan conversation with the chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee that will be coming up in a moment, but we're going to begin with Senator Bernie Sanders from Burlington, Vermont. Good morning to you, Senator.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You have long been a critic of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The other night, President Biden was heard on a hot mic after the State of the Union address saying he has to have a come to Jesus talk with Netanyahu about letting humanitarian aid into Gaza. Have you spoken to President Biden about whether he's had this conversation? If he hasn't, what is he waiting for? And if he already had it, has it made any difference?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, I've spoken to people very high up in his administration. Here's the bottom line. Margaret, what we are seeing in Gaza today is literally an unprecedented crisis. It's not just that 30,000 people, two thirds of them are women and children have already been killed. We are looking at the possibility of hundreds of thousands of children starving to death. The United States of America cannot be complicit in this mass slaughter of children. So it is one thing to talk to Netanyahu to pressure Netanyahu. But here is the bottom line. Year after year, we have provided billions of dollars in military aid to the Government of Israel. Right now, you have a right wing extremist government under Netanyahu. There are plans to provide him with another $10 billion in unfettered military aid. What you can say to Netanyahu, stop the slaughter, allow the massive amounts of humanitarian aid that we need to come in to feed the children. Please, please, please. Oh, but by the way, if you don't do it, here's another $10 billion to continue the war. Now we have written a letter to the president, it turns out that Israel is in violation of the law, stopping American humanitarian aid is in violation of the law. That should be clear, no more money to Netanyahu's war machine to kill Palestinian children.  

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said Israel's in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act as have a handful of other Democratic senators, they may also be in violation of the Leahy Act, the President himself has the national security powers to suspend. Do you really think though, in a presidential election year, that the President of the United States would halt or pause or condition aid to one of the closest allies in the Middle East?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, I think it is the right thing to do. You can't beg Netanyahu, you got to tell him if you want any money, you got to change your policy. Allow the trucks to come in to feed their children. And by the way, in terms of politics --


SEN. SANDERS: -- Which is secondary, to my mind in this issue. The truth is, whether you're a conservative Republican or a progressive, you do not want to see children in Palestine starve to death. So I think it's good politics, and it's the moral and right thing to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you stand by your view that a full ceasefire with Hamas is unrealistic? Because that terror group seeks to destroy Israel?

SEN. SANDERS: Look, what you have, what you need right now is a ceasefire tomorrow so that the trucks, the massive amount of humanitarian aid can come in to feed the people who are starving. But you have Hamas has dedicated to destroying Israel. You have the Natenyehav- Netanyahu government which is dedicated to destroy Hamas. I think at the end of the day, commands cannot be continuing to run Gaza. And Netanyahu government cannot continue to run Israel, if we're going to ever leave- bring peace to that region,

MARGARET BRENNAN: But a temporary ceasefire is sufficient for you?

SEN. SANDERS: To feed the children right now is --

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Understood.

SEN. SANDERS: What we've got to exactly do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Yesterday, President Biden was asked about Israel's plans to launch an operation into the southern city of Rafah in southern Gaza. Listen to what he said.


JONATHAN CAPEHART: Would invasion of Rafah, which you have urged him not to do, would that be a red line?

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It is a red line, but I'm never gonna leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical. So there's no red line. I'm going to cut off all weapons so they don't have the Iron Dome to protect them. They don't have- but there's red lines that if he crosses, they can cannot have 30,000 More Palestinians dead.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Was that clear to you in terms of where that red line is? And what do you make of it?

SEN. SANDERS: Look, Margaret, 1.7 million Palestinians, 80% of their population have been driven from their homes and displaced. Many of them end up in Rafah. To go in there and to displace them again and start a major military campaign would be an unmitigated disaster. So my view is, of course, we cannot support an attack of that kind on Rafah. Bottom line is, though, Netanyahu has got to be told no more money for his war machine, unless there is humanitarian aid coming in to feed the people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that'll be in the hands at the moment of- of the House of Representatives, which hasn't scheduled a vote. On the politics of this, more than 100,000 voters in Michigan went uncommitted to protest Mr. Biden's policy. In the state of Minnesota in the recent primary there, you saw a similar boycott, almost 20% went uncommitted. Giving your moral objections, your personal issues here, can you, in good conscience, ask your supporters to vote for Mr. Biden?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, look, the contrast that I think President Biden made it very clear in the State of the Union address. If you believe that climate change is real, you've got to vote for President Biden, if you believe that women have a right to control their own bodies, you've got to vote for President Biden. If you think that at time of massive income and wealth inequality, you don't give trillions of dollars in tax breaks to the 1%, you've got to vote for Biden. If you want to lower the cost of prescription drugs, you've got to vote for Biden. If you believe in democracy, and involving people in the process, rather than keeping people from voting, you have to vote for Biden.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're saying --

SEN. SANDERS: -- So I am in talk --

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Progressives need to put this aside?

SEN. SANDERS: I am saying we've got to come, not put it aside. The fight continues to change Biden's policy in Gaza. But the contrast between Biden and Trump is day and night. The election of Trump would be a disaster for this country. And in my view of the world, we've got to come together, reelect Biden, but at the same time, we have to demand that we have a progressive agenda, where we have an economy that works for all, not just a few.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're standing by your endorsement of Mr. Biden's election, despite the current policy?

SEN. SANDERS: No, I'm not supporting Mr. Trump, no --

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- No, no, no Mr. Biden.

SEN. SANDERS: The election of Trump would be- yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you for your time this morning.

SEN. SANDERS: Thank you.

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