Updated Mar 1, 2020 - World

Israel's UN ambassador calls Bernie Sanders an "ignorant fool"

Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon tore into Sen. Bernie Sanders during his speech at the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC Sunday morning, calling the 2020 front-runner an "ignorant fool” and “a liar” and telling the audience, “We don’t want Sanders in Israel."

Why it matters: AIPAC, which has faced increasing difficulty in recent years maintaining American bipartisan relations with Israel, was hoping to avoid partisan politics at this year's conference. Danon’s remarks are not going to make this any easier.

The backdrop: Sanders sparked a controversy last week when he announced he will boycott the AIPAC conference because it provides a platform for what he called anti-Palestinian bigotry.

  • Danon in his speech referenced Sanders' attack on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during last week's Democratic debate, in which he called Netanyahu “a reactionary racist."
  • Asked about Sanders' comments last week, Netanyahu refrained from attacking him and only said he thought the senator was wrong to call him a racist.
  • Netanyahu aides told me Danon's remarks about Sanders were not coordinated with the prime minister.

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Pence urged Israel not to target U.S. with coronavirus quarantine: "Go global"

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Vice President Mike Pence personally asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to target Israel's newly announced coronavirus quarantine at only visitors from the U.S., but to "go global," senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: On Monday, Netanyahu announced a new policy of self-quarantine for a period of 14 days for anyone who enters Israel regardless of their country of origin — thus implementing Pence's request, made during a call on Sunday. Israeli officials say Pence's request significantly influenced Netanyahu's decision.

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Netanyahu's party on course to win Israel's election: exit polls

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Why it matters: The exit polls are not official results, but they project a strong performance from Netanyahu in Israel's third elections in 10 months despite a looming corruption trial. Both Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, his centrist rival, failed to form coalition governments following elections in April and September.

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Israel’s opposition uniting in bid to bring down Netanyahu

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israel's election committee has published the results of Monday's election showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing bloc with 58 seats — three short of the parliamentary majority needed to form a government.

Why it matters: Worse still for Netanyahu, particularly in the wake of what looked like a remarkable victory, a majority might now be uniting behind an effort to effectively end his political career. His corruption trial, meanwhile, is set to begin in just 12 days.

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