South Bend Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg says he would block U.S. taxpayer money from being used for Israel’s potential annexation of the West Bank.
Buttigieg made the pledge during a June 11 speech at Indiana University, which outlined a number of his foreign policy proposals. Shortly before Israel’s election in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would annex portions of the West Bank if he were reelected and earlier this month the US ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the New York Times that Israel had the right to do so. Netanyahu won the election but was unable to form a coalition government, forcing another election in September.
“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,” said the presidential hopeful.
Although some outlets have reported that Buttigieg would cut off all Israel aid as a result of a West Bank annexation, his comments make it clear that he is only referring to funds which would be used for that particular plan. In a tweet emphasizing this distinction, J Street Jeremy Ben-Ami wrote, “Here’s what Pete Buttigieg did say: He’d ensure US taxpayers don’t fund West Bank annexation. What he didn’t say: A single word about *cutting* aid. There’s a major difference between cutting US aid & imposing restrictions on how Israel can spend it..” Buttigieg did not detail how he would implement this strategy if an annexation began.
Buttigieg’s comments come on the heels of a new Senate resolution that denounces Netanyahu’s annexation plan and calls for a two-state solution. That resolution is backed by fellow presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two fellow presidential candidates.
Sanders foreign policy advisor Matt Duss tweeted in support of Buttigieg’s plan, “Conditioning US aid to Israel to stop settlements and end occupation quickly becoming the mainstream Democratic position. This is good.”