WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday that if Israel unilaterally annexes parts of the West Bank, the United States should limit its financial backing to the Jewish state.
During a speech at Indiana University, Buttigieg said that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proceeds with his pre-election promise to annex settlements in the West Bank, “He should know that a President Buttigieg would take steps to make sure that American taxpayers won’t help foot the bill.”
Buttigieg added that he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that the leadership on both sides is at fault for the current stalemate. He warned that Netanyahu is “turning away from peace” and added that “a supporter of Israel may also oppose the policies of the right-wing Israeli government.”
The comments follow an interview published Saturday in the New York Times, in which U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that, “under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.” The statement drew harsh criticism from Palestinian leaders. Israel has maintained control over the West Bank since it was conquered from Jordan in 1967’s Six-Day War.
In May, Buttigieg said Palestinian leaders are not “the right kinds of partners” for peace, but that Israel’s leaders need American guidance. He later told the Washington Post: “Being supportive of Israel does not have to mean that you are on board with the agenda of the Israeli political right wing. I am not. I believe that this move to walk away from peace will harm Israeli interests, will of course continue to contribute to the immiseration of the Palestinian people, and is not good for the U.S. either.”