Bernie Sanders calls Israel’s war in Gaza ‘disproportionate’

US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (right) during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper in New York City on Sunday, April 10, 2016.

US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, has called for a more "balanced" US Middle East policy, describing Israel's war in the Gaza Strip in 2014 as "disproportionate."

"Was Israel's response disproportionate? I think it was," Sanders told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday on the "State of the Union" talk show.

“I think that we will not succeed to ever bring peace into that region unless we also treat the Palestinians with dignity and respect, and that is my view," Sanders said.

In early July 2014, Israel waged a war on the Gaza Strip. The 50-day offensive ended on August 26 with a truce that took effect after indirect negotiations in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, were killed in Israel’s onslaught. Over 11,100 others - including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people - were also injured.

In the interview, Sanders, a secular Jew, said he hopes to provide a "balanced" view on issues related to Israel and Palestine than most US politicians.

"It is interesting ... that the first Jew in American history to win a delegate, much less a primary, is taking this position with Israel," Tapper told Sanders. "Usually in American politics, everyone just supports Israel whatever Israel wants to do, but you are taking a more critical position."

"I'm taking a more balanced position," Sanders replied.

He added: "Whether you're Jewish or not Jewish, I would hope that every person in this country wants to see the misery of never-ending war and conflict ended in the Middle East. It's a difficult issue and good people have tried to deal with it for years."

"Of course we are going to support Israel, but you cannot ignore the needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza right now: poverty, unemployment, their community has been decimated," Sanders said.

"You can't ignore that fact. And you can't just be only concerned about Israel's needs. You have to be concerned about the needs of all of the people of the region."

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