(October 28, 2019 / JNS) Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, reiterated on Monday that the United States should condition its assistance to Israel on the Jewish state not fulfilling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign promise to annex parts of the West Bank.
“We need to have the visibility to know whether U.S. funds are being used in a way that’s actually not compatible with U.S. policy, and U.S. policy should not be promoting this kind of settlement construction,” he said at the annual J Street conference in Washington, D.C.
In June, Buttigieg warned about possible West Bank annexation by Israel.
“If Prime Minister Netanyahu makes good on his threat to annex West Bank settlements, he should know that a President Buttigieg would take steps to ensure that American taxpayers won’t help foot the bill,” he declared.
Additionally, at the J Street conference, Buttigieg appeared to imply that U.S. President Donald Trump is hypocritical for claiming to be pro-Israel, considering his controversial response to white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville Va., over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, in which a white nationalist rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others.
“You have somebody who on one hand sees … anti-Semites as very fine people, and on the other hand thinks he can get people to think he is a friend of the Jewish people,” he said.
Buttigieg said that one can be pro-Israel without supporting Trump and Netanyahu.
“You can be committed to the U.S.-Israel relationship without that [defining] you are supportive of any policy choice by a right-wing government,” he said.
Buttigieg has said that, if elected, he would keep the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Regarding the Golan Heights, Buttigieg told JNS in August that the U.S. recognition was “an intervention in Israeli domestic politics.”
Neither the May 2018 U.S. embassy move nor the Golan Heights was mentioned in Buttigieg’s remarks on Monday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) are scheduled to appear at the conference on Monday afternoon. Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro appeared shortly after Buttigieg.
They, too, plan to sit with the hosts of the weekly podcast “Pod Save the World,” former National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor and former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes to “discuss the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship, their visions for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, their plans to combat the growing threat of white supremacy and more,” according to an email from J Street ahead of the conference.
The conference concludes on Tuesday, when participants will lobby J Street’s agenda on Capitol Hill.
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