Bernie Sanders addresses anti-annexation protest in Tel Aviv via video

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Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (AP/Paul Sancya)

By Ebin Sandler, World Israel News Staff

The left-wing Meretz party and the communist faction within the Arab Joint List staged a protest on Saturday evening in Tel Aviv to register opposition to the Israeli government’s plan to annex Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addressed the rally in a video message from the U.S., referring to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as an “occupation” and labeling Israel’s plans to extend sovereignty over these communities as “illegal annexation.”

The self-avowed socialist added, “The plans to annex any parts of [Judea and Samaria] must be stopped.”

Sanders’ address was posted to YouTube by Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Hadash party and head of the Joint Arab List. Sanders referred to Odeh as his “friend” at the outset of his address.

Estimates of the number attendees ranged from 2,000, the number at which police sought to cap the event, to 6,000, a figure published by the Haaretz newspaper.

At the demonstration, Meretz head Nitzan Horowitz told the protesters annexation represents a “war crime.”

Palestinian officials have openly threatened violence in recent weeks, with Mahmoud al-Habbash, a top advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claiming, “Every home, every young person…can turn into a powder keg if Israel carries out the annexation. When a person loses hope for peace and justice he can turn into a bomb.”

Palestinian leadership has encouraged suicide bombings in the past, with one particularly deadly attack in 2001 claiming the lives of 15 civilians, including 7 children and a pregnant woman.

During that attack, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at a crowded pizzeria in Jerusalem.

Senior Fatah member Jibril Rajoub echoed Habbash’s sentiments, telling Israel’s Kan Radio, “If there is annexation, we are going to a confrontation on the ground.”

Meanwhile, a Hamas official named Maher Salah told one of the terror group’s official websites that Israeli annexation “will open new doors of conflict and will increase the fire…we will protect [the Palestinian national project] with our blood.”

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