Pete Buttigieg says he won’t move US embassy back to Tel Aviv if elected
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Pete Buttigieg says he won’t move US embassy back to Tel Aviv if elected

Democratic presidential candidate says nothing to gain by reversing Trump’s decision to move mission to Jerusalem

Democratic US presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner, on June 9, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)
Democratic US presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner, on June 9, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

US presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that he would not move the country’s embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem.

“I think what’s done is done,” Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said in an interview with “Axios on HBO.”

He went on to say: “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.”

Pressed on whether US President Donald Trump did the right thing in making the move last year, Buttigieg suggested that Trump should have offered it as a reward for Israeli progress on the peace process.

“[I]f 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… 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 US interests.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and US ambassador to Israel David Friedman stand next to the dedication plaque at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, on March 21, 2019. (Jim Young/Pool/AFP)

The same is true, he said, with regard to the Trump administration’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

“The Israeli claims in the Golan are not something to be ignored. They have a lot to do with legitimate security interests,” Buttigieg said. But US recognition, he said, “was given away” and “worse probably for the specific purpose to have an impact in Israeli domestic politics, which should be the last reason that we would be conducting American foreign policy.”

Asked about the Palestinian “right of return” to homes in Israel that they and their ancestors fled or were expelled from in the late 1940s — a longtime Palestinian demand which Israel says would end its existence as a Jewish state — Buttigieg was short on specifics, saying “I think that concept can be honored in the context of a negotiated peace.”

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