Debate night

Pressure Israel on two states, but without leveraging aid

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg offered their views about Israel and the Mideast peace process during the 6th Democratic presidential debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Two states or bust: “There’s no solution for Israel other than a two-state solution,” Biden said. “It does not exist. It’s not possible to have a Jewish state in the Middle East without having a two-state solution.” Biden further stressed that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu know each other well and is aware that Netanyahu’s conduct on the Israeli-Palestinian issue is “outrageous.” The former vice president suggested that the U.S has to “put pressure constantly” on the Israelis to “move to a two-state solution.” But he cautioned that the way to do that should not be by leveraging U.S. military aid. [Video]

Leading from behind: Buttigieg directed his attacks at Trump, accusing the president of “refusing to lead” on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and choosing to “effectively interfere in Israeli domestic politics.” Buttigieg said the president thinks that his moves on Jerusalem and the Golan would “make him pro-Israel or pro-Jewish while welcoming white nationalists into the White House.” 

It’s Bibi’s Israel: When asked about his views on Pompeo’s recent announcement on settlement policy, Sanders reiterated his stance that Israel has a right to exist “in peace and security” and that U.S. foreign policy must also be pro-Palestinian. The Vermont senator also mentioned Netanyahu’s indictments and repeated his claim that the current prime minister “is a racist.” 

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council for America, tells JI: “We were glad to hear Israel raised in tonight’s debate, which provided the opportunity for a few of the candidates to demonstrate what we know to be true — all the Dem presidential candidates support Israel and its right to self defense, oppose the global BDS movement, and support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which are views shared by an overwhelming majority of Jewish voters.”

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