(October 28, 2019 / JNS) Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro said on Monday that he wouldn’t rule out conditioning U.S. assistance to Israel if the Jewish state were to annex parts of the West Bank.
When asked by former White House National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor, who served under former U.S. President Barack Obama, if he would follow what his fellow candidates South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have said about such a contingency, Castro responded, “That wouldn’t be my first move, [though] I would not take that of the table.”
Castro stressed a two-state solution and the hope of working with an Israeli government not led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose policies he criticized in his remarks, including accusing the Trump administration of being in lockstep with him.
And he reiterated his support for the United States to re-enter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from in May 2018, reimposing sanctions lifted under it, along with enacting new financial penalties against the regime.
Additionally, Castro expressed support for opening a U.S. consulate in eastern Jerusalem and “make clear that under a two-state approach, that would be the embassy to a Palestinian state.”
He also called for restoring U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and the U.N. agencies supporting the Palestinians. If elected, he said that he would reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington, D.C., which the Trump administration shuttered in October 2018.
Moreover, Castro expressed his opposition to the anti-Israel BDS movement, but criticized efforts to legislate against it.
“I also don’t support cracking down on political speech,” earning a strong applause from the audience.
Finally, Castro noted the one-year anniversary of the Oct. 27, 2018, Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, where 11 worshippers were killed in the deadliest attack in American Jewish history.
They, too, plan to sit with the hosts of the weekly podcast “Pod Save the World,” 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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