05:36 GMT +324 April 2019
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    A man walks by an election campaign billboard showing Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud party leader, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, April 7, 2019

    2020 Democratic Hopeful Beto O'Rourke Calls Israeli PM Netanyahu 'Racist'

    © AP Photo / Oded Balilty
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    Earlier, the three-term representative accused Netanyahu of "siding with racists", referring to the right-wing Otzma Yehudit Party, which is considered to be promoting anti-Arab sentiment.

    Beto O'Rourke, a former representative from Texas who is running for the US presidency in 2020, has delivered a scathing verbal attack against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    "The US-Israel relationship is one of the most important relationships that we have on the planet, and that relationship, if it is successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States," O'Rourke said on Sunday.

    "And it must be able to transcend a prime minister who is racist, as he warns against Arabs coming to the polls, who wants to defy any prospect for peace as he threatens to annex the West Bank, and who has sided with a far-right racist party in order to maintain his hold on power".

    The far-right party O'Rourke was apparently referring to is Otzma Yehudit ("Jewish Power"), a right-wing party that will run in the 9 April legislative election on a united ticket with The Jewish Home, a religious Zionist party which is allied with Netanyahu's Likud.

    The AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee, which are considered to be some of the most influential pro-Israeli advocacy groups in the US, condemned the merger deal and slammed the views of Otzma Yehudit as "racist and reprehensible".

    Beto O'Rourke added he didn't think that Netanyahu "represents the true will of the Israeli people" or the "best interests" of US-Israel relations.

    Touching upon the Palestinian issue, O'Rourke said a two-state solution was the best way to achieve peace.

    "We must be able to transcend his current leadership to make sure that that alliance is strong, that we continue to push for and settle for nothing less than a two-state solution, because that is the best opportunity for peace for the people of Israel and the people of Palestine," O'Rourke said. "It is the best opportunity for the full human rights of everyone who is living in that region."

    O'Rourke's remarks come over two weeks after he claimed that Netanyahu had "openly sided with racists" in another apparent dig at Otzma Yehudit.

    Netanyahu, 69, who has been mired in a corruption scandal, is seeking a fourth straight term as prime minister in Tuesday's election. Over the weekend, he vowed to "extend Israeli sovereignty" over settlements in the occupied West Bank if he gets re-elected.

    READ MORE: 'It Won't Happen': Netanyahu Says Palestinian State Will Not Be Created

    The United States has made several moves in support of Israeli territorial claims in recent years. On 25 March, the White House recognised Israeli claims over the Golan Heights, a strategic area Israel took over from Syria in 1967, where Tel Aviv recently has held municipal and local elections.

    In December 2017, Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and later, in May 2018, moved the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, which hosts most diplomatic missions to the country. Both decisions were denounced by the international community and the United Nations, but welcomed by Tel Aviv.

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