Democratic presidential hopeful and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has said that if he were elected president, he would keep the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. He called Israel a “strong ally” and said that he did not think that there would be any point in moving the embassy back, although he criticized the way that the Trump administration went about moving the embassy.
What’s the background?
On Dec. 6, 2017, the White House announced that the United States was moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The U.S. had passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, but until 2017, each U.S. president had signed an extension to delay it from happening.
Several Democratic leaders criticized this decision, saying that the Trump administration was undermining any chance for peace in the region. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem was seen as controversial because both Israelis and Palestinians claim the ancient city as their capital.
Following the Trump administration’s announcement, Guatemala also announced that it would be moving its embassy to Jerusalem.
What did he say?
“I think what’s done is done,” Buttigieg told Axios co-founder Mike Allen after a question about the embassy in an interview posted Sunday.
“Look, we need a big-picture strategy on the Middle East,” he elaborated. “I don’t know that we gain much by moving it to Tel Aviv.”
However, Buttigieg stopped short of saying that President Donald Trump had made the right decision by moving the embassy.
“Here’s the problem with what he did,” he hedged, “is that if 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.”
Pete Buttigieg says he won’t reverse President Trump’s Jerusalem move