(June 17, 2019 / JNS) Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, said that if elected, he would not move the U.S. embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv.
“What’s done is done,” he told Axios in an interview aired by HBO.
“I don’t know that we’d gain much by moving it to Tel Aviv,” he said, adding that he felt that U.S. President Donald Trump, who ordered the embassy moved to Jerusalem in May 2018, should not have relocated it.
“Here’s the problem with what he did,” said the 37-year-old candidate, who has been rising in the polls. “[I]f you’re going to make a concession like that, if you’re going to give somebody something that they’ve wanted for a long time in the context of a push-pull, even with a strong ally like Israel, right? We have a push-pull relationship. And you don’t do that without getting some kind of concession. Instead, we’ve seen the Israeli government continue to act in ways that are detrimental to peace. And I believe, therefore, also detrimental to U.S. interests.”
He continued, saying, “It’s the same thing with recognition of the Golan. Look, the Israeli claims in the Golan are not something to be ignored. They have a lot to do with legitimate security interests,” continued Buttigieg. “But when we did that, we were doing something that could have been part of a negotiated package, and instead we just gave it away.
“Worse, we gave it away probably for the specific purpose of having an impact in Israeli domestic politics, which should be the last reason that we would be conducting U.S. foreign policy,” he said. “It should be designed around American values, American interests and American international relationships.”
The United States recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in March.
Finally, regarding a right of return for Palestinian refugees, Buttigieg remarked that it “could be honored as part of the framework of a negotiation,” but he wouldn’t “declare it at the outset as a precondition for peace.”
Buttigieg’s latest remarks occurred as he last week he threatened, “If [Israeli] 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 also promised, if elected, to re-enter the United States into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from in May 2018, following by reimposing sanctions lifted under it in addition to enacting new financial penalties against Tehran.