South Bend mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg says he would not move the US Embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, declining to reverse President Trump’s measure.
In 2018, the Trump administration made the contentious move of relocating the US Embassy in Israel, an order that pleased the Israeli government but angered many critics of the state.
In an interview with Michael Allen on Axios on HBO, Allen pressed Buttigieg on his position regarding the embassy's location.
"I think what’s done is done," Buttigieg said. "We need a big picture strategy on the Middle East. I don’t know that we gain much from moving it back to Tel Aviv."
Allen asked Buttigieg if his disinterest in moving the embassy meant that he supported Trump’s move. Buttigieg denied the assertion, and then explained his disapproval of the embassy move.
Buttigieg argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem should have come as part of a negotiated settlement with Israel. "You don’t do that without getting some kind of concession," he said. "Instead, we’ve seen the Israeli government continue to act in ways that are detrimental to peace, and I believe therefore detrimental to US interests."
Buttigieg’s reluctance to return the US Embassy to Tel Aviv may put him at odds with the pro-Palestinian wing of the Democratic Party. But the candidate’s rhetoric on Israel has become more critical during his primary campaign. Formerly considered a strong pro-Israel advocate, Buttigieg lately has voiced concerns that "the Netanyahu government is turning away from peace," and stated that he would consider pulling aid to Israel.