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Buttigieg says Netanyahu is ‘turning away from peace,’ but he wouldn’t reverse one Trump gift

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In a June 16 interview with Axios on HBO, South Bend Mayor and presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg said he’d keep the US embassy in Jerusalem if he was elected. The comments came just one week after Buttigieg publicly denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to annex sections of the West Bank and said there were signs that Israel’s government was “turning away from peace.”

In December 2017, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that generated protests and criticism throughout the world. Prime Minister Netanyahu celebrated the decision, referring to Trump’s announcement as a  “historic landmark.” In May 2018, the U.S. government moved its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. No other country has one in the city, as the international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the entire area.

When asked by Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen whether he’d move the embassy back to Tel Aviv or not, Buttigieg said “what’s done is done” and made it clear that his main problem with the embassy move was that the Trump administration did not secure any concessions from Israel before going through with it. He also reiterated the fact that Israel should be considered a “string ally” by the U.S. government.

Allen: Would you move the U.S. Embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv?

Buttigieg: I think what’s done is done and I don’t think the Israelis believe that the U.S. needs to —

Allen: So you would leave it?

Buttigieg: Look, we need a big-picture strategy on the Middle East. I don’t know that we’d gain much by moving it to Tel Aviv. I will say —

Allen: So President Trump did the right thing?

Buttigieg: I didn’t say that.

Allen: Well you did — you wouldn’t undo it.

Buttigieg: That doesn’t mean he did the right thing. Here’s the problem with what he did … [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.

It’s the same thing with recognition of the Golan. Look, the Israeli claims in the Golan or not something to be ignored. They have a lot to do with legitimate security interests. 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. It should be designed around American values, American interests and American international relationships.

In a June 11 speech he gave in Bloomington, Indiana, Buttigieg said he’d block U.S. taxpayer funds from being used by Israel to annex the West Bank and implied that the right-wing Netanyahu government should be opposed.

“Just as an American patriot may oppose the policies of an American president, a supporter of Israel may also oppose the policies of an Israeli right-wing government,” said Buttigieg. “Especially when we see increasingly disturbing signs that the Netanyahu government is turning away from peace. Israeli and Palestinian citizens should be able to enjoy the freedom to go about their daily lives without fear and to work to achieve economic well-being for their families. As Israel’s most powerful and most reliable ally, the United States has the opportunity to shape a more constructive path, with the tough and honest guidance that friendship and fairness require.”

In the Axios interview, Buttigieg was also asked about the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants. “I think that concept can be honored in the context of a negotiated peace,” said the South Bend Mayor. “I don’t think it should be presumptively declared by a U.S. presidential candidate. I’m concerned, though, that we’re walking away from the possibility of peace, when you have the Israeli government talking about annexing parts of the West Bank.”

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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11 Responses

  1. eljay on June 17, 2019, 12:56 pm

    … Buttigieg: That doesn’t mean he did the right thing. Here’s the problem with what he did … [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. …

    Bibi: Thanks for Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. In exchange, I promise not to make war on America.

    Pete: See? Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! You give a little, you get a little.

    • eljay on June 17, 2019, 9:12 pm

      Hey, Pete, check out this “concession”: Trump Heights.

      Pretty sweet, eh?

    • Misterioso on June 18, 2019, 9:46 am

      @eljay, et al

      For the record:

      How Israel came to occupy the Golan Heights:

      If, as Israel would have the world believe, Syrian shelling from the Golan Heights was incessant, destructive and murderous, why is it that the UN Truce Supervision Organization chiefs at the time seldom make any mention of the Heights in their memoirs? In fact, the only direct reference to Syrian guns was made by Major General Carl von Horn who stated that it was “unlikely [the Syrian guns] would have come into action had it not been for Israeli provocation.” (Major General Carl von Horn, Soldiering for Peace, David McKay company, Inc., New York, 1967, p. 129)

      General Moshe Dayan confirmed that Syria posed no threat and revealed that the real reason Israel conquered the Golan Heights during the war it launched on 5 June 1967 (and subsequently expelled about 130,000 native Syrian Arabs) was to seize its fertile farm lands and gain control of the upper waters of the Jordan River. “‘I made a mistake in allowing the conquest of the Golan Heights. As defense minister I should have stopped it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time.’ The attack proceeded, he went on, not because Israel was threatened but because of pressure from land-hungry farmers and army commanders in northern Israel. ‘Of course [war with Syria] was not necessary. You can say the Syrians are bastards and attack when you want. But this is not policy. You don’t open aggression against an enemy because he’s a bastard but because he’s a threat’.” (Quoted in “Israel and Syria: Correcting the Record,” by Stephen S. Rosenfeld, The Washington Post, 24 December 1999)

      Unaware of the pressure he was under from expansionists, two other well known Israeli generals wondered why Moshe Dayan ordered the invasion of Syria at 11:30 A.M. on June 9 – a full four days after Israel launched the war and four-and- one-half hours after Damascus had agreed to abide by the UN Security Council’s demand for a cease-fire. “[General Yitzhak] Rabin wrote in his memoir that he has ‘never grasped the reasons’ for Dayan’s decision to launch the assault. [General] Ezer Weizman, who likewise could give ‘no explanation’ for Dayan’s action, rhetorically asked years later, ‘if indeed the Syrian enemy threatened to destroy us, why did we wait three days before we attacked it?’” (Quoted by Norman Finkelstein, Image and…pp. 133-34)

  2. LiberatePalestine on June 17, 2019, 1:47 pm

    → his main problem with the embassy move was that the Trump administration did not secure any concessions from Israel before going through with it

    Just exactly which «concessions» would he have wanted?

    → Look, the Israeli claims in the Golan or not something to be ignored. They have a lot to do with legitimate security interests.

    What? Is there any criminal action by the Zionist entity that these so-called progressives won’t explain away?

    → Buttigieg was also asked about the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants. “I think that concept can be honored in the context of a negotiated peace,”

    In other words, his answer is «no».

    → I don’t think it should be presumptively declared by a U.S. presidential candidate.

    It’s a straightforward matter of international law, so, yes, it should indeed be presumptively declared, if the US still retains any pretensions of legality.

    → I’m concerned, though, that we’re walking away from the possibility of peace, when you have the Israeli government talking about annexing parts of the West Bank.

    In practice, the Zionist entity annexed parts of the West Bank long ago. The ones «walking away from the possibility of peace» are those who celebrate the US’s «friendship» (read: criminal complicity) with the Zionist entity and pretend that negotiations with a Yankee-backed bully can lead to progress.

  3. echinococcus on June 17, 2019, 2:36 pm

    ” the Israeli claims in the Golan or not something to be ignored. They have a lot to do with legitimate security interests.”

    That’s all we need to hear to know that Buttigieg is a Democrat, a US imperialist, and a guard dog of the regime of war and aggression — as certified by his CV as a spy and a uniformed killer.

    There can be no “legitimate security interests” of any regime that is militarily occupying any other country’s territory, worse, even annexing it. None. Case closed.

  4. LiberatePalestine on June 17, 2019, 3:06 pm

    Buttigieg is just tRump with a few more brain cells. People are foolish to suppose that voting for one of two effectively identical candidates constitutes political activity that can make a difference.

  5. JimMichie on June 18, 2019, 8:18 am

    Try Mossad on “for size” on the oil tanker attacks! The whole world knows that Israel has been working hard for years pushing ugly, global bully USA into a war with Iran!

  6. RobertHenryEller on June 18, 2019, 9:42 am

    Mayor Pete, like Marco Rubio, is just another Rent Boy for Zombie Zionist Nazi pimps like Mr. and Mrs. Smelly AnalScum, Chaim Saban and Norman Braman.

    No different than Pelosi and Schumer. No different than “progressive” Rent Boy Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who sponsored and voted for Constitution-violating (not to mention Oath of Office violating) anti-BDS legislation.

    All these hookers in the stable for Zombie Zionist Nazi Billionaire pimps.

    • genesto on June 18, 2019, 12:12 pm

      Good work, Robert! Try not to hold back next time, though! :-{)

  7. Elisabeth on June 18, 2019, 4:28 pm

    Why do people even give attention to this boy? He is a joke. Ignore him. Talk about Elizabeth Warren or other people with some substance.

  8. Brewer on June 18, 2019, 6:14 pm

    Buttkick is pure poll driven politician positioning himself.
    Nothing is real.

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