Democratic candidates on Israel/Palestine – a guide (updated regularly)

Democratic candidates on Israel/Palestine – a guide (updated regularly)

It’s anybody’s guess how this will play out, but it’s going to be a long, wild ride.

Overwhelmed by the crowd of candidates for President? The issue of justice for Palestinians – in which almost everyone bows to the Israel lobby – is the ultimate litmus test for integrity. Find out where everyone stands. (This guide will be updated often.)

Keep in mind that since Palestinians in Gaza began weekly unarmed demonstrations for their internationally recognized rights on March 30, 2018 and every Friday since; one year later Israeli forces had killed over 271 demonstrators and injured 29,187 Gazans – 6,000 of them children. During that time 2 Israelis were killed and 56 injured (numbers continue to climb). A Timeline of Palestinian and Israeli deaths is here.

By Kathryn Shihadah

Below are a sampling of statements from all 24 Democratic candidates for president (in alphabetical order), followed by the single Independent. Quotes appear in red.

Watch for more in-depth reporting from IAK on the individual candidates as the campaign season progresses.

Democratic Candidates 1-24

1. Michael Bennet (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) Yes. I’ve said this before and I believe it: Israel is the one essential country on the planet. I say that because of my family’s history during the Holocaust, and that doesn’t mean Israel’s perfect. Where we have disagreements, we should be able to articulate those disagreements, and I do articulate the disagreements I’ve had with Benjamin Netanyahu over the years.

(Twitter 5/6/19) We stand behind Israel’s right to self-defense against rocket attacks by terror groups inside Gaza. Launching rocket attacks against innocent civilians is unacceptable and we mourn the lives lost. A cessation in violence is a necessary step toward de-escalation and stability.

2. Joe Biden (D)

(Remarks at Saban Forum 12/7/14, a few months after the Gaza slaughter, in which Israel killed 500 children.) Send a message to Bibi. I love him.

(Remarks at Yeshiva Beth Yehuda 75th Anniversary Dinner 11/15/11) About 18, 20 years ago, I was speaking to the Zionist Organization of Baltimore.  And I said, I am a Zionist, for I learned you do not have to be a Jew to be a Zionist…[I]t was no surprise to my friends when I was elected to the Senate in a state less than 1 percent of the Jewish — less than 1 percent of the population is Jewish, that I got so deeply involved early on in the Senate with the business of Israel.

(Remarks at AIPAC Policy Conference 3/4/13) We opposed the unilateral efforts of the Palestinian Authority to circumvent direct negotiations by pushing for statehood and multilateral organizations like UNESCO. We stood strongly with Israel in its right to defend itself after the Goldstone ReportGaza flotilla in 2010, [I spent a lot of time] going to the United Nations directly by telephone, speaking with the Secretary General, making sure that one thing was made clear, Israel had the right — had the right — to impose that blockade.

3. Bill de Blasio (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) I believe in the state of Israel…the one true democracy in the Middle East, and they do respect the rights of all people. There’s always more work to be done…it begins with a strong commitment to Israel…I’ve been to Israel 4 times, I’ve spent a lot of time seeing the threats that Israel faces. I firmly believe that we have to defend the state of Israel, and we have to fight against the movements that would undercut Israel, like BDS…The current administration has made a lot of mistakes that have hindered the peace process…

(Remarks at Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, 8/20/16) Defending Israel is a matter — from my point of view as a progressive — is a matter of being consistent with progressive values.

(Remarks at AIPAC Policy Conference, 3/25/19) As a progressive, here’s what I see when I’m in Israel. I see a multi-racial democracy. I see universal healthcare, free college, a strong labor movement. You’ve often heard it said that Israel’s America’s closest ally in the Middle East and a great center of innovation, and although that is true, I’m moved by something more than that. 

4. Cory Booker (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) We have a problem right now in America with the way we are debating issues surrounding Israel and Israel’s security…My commitment right now is affirming Israel’s right to exist and affirming Israel’s right to defend itself against enemies which they have virtually surrounding them, but also to affirm the dignity and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

(Senate floor speech 11/29/18) Mr. President, today I wish to add myself as a cosponsor of S. 720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, and urge my colleagues to support this important legislation in its modified form. I have long and staunchly opposed the BDS movement and associated efforts to unfairly isolate Israel in international forums.

[Secretly recorded meeting with New Jersey AIPAC members 3/26/19) Israel is not political to me. It’s not political. I was a supporter of Israel well before I was a United State Senator. I was coming to AIPAC conferences well before I knew that one day I would be a federal officer. If I forget thee, o Israel, may I cut off my right hand.

(Booker answering a question about aid to Israel) Unequivocally 100 percent absolutely [yes] to the 3.3 billion [a year]. I have been on the front lines every time an MOU is up to make sure Israel gets the funding it needs. I even pushed for more funding.

5. Steve Bullock (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) I think that Israel’s a trusted partner, a trusted friend to our country, and will continue to. I think that there have been certainly in the territories there have been challenges with decisions that currently Netanyahu has made…we could get things back on track, work with our allies, and get to a 2-state solution.

(Signatory of Governors Against BDS, an initiative of the American Jewish Committee, 12/17/17, which reads in part:) We, the undersigned Governors, reject efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israel—America’s democratic ally in the Middle East— through the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The goals of the BDS movement are antithetical to our values and the values of our respective states…They malign a trusted ally that, while forced to defend itself against repeated and ongoing attempts to annihilate it, has consistently extended its hand in peace to its Palestinian neighbors and to states across the Middle East and around the world. Significantly, the BDS movement would also undermine peacemaking by suggesting that economic and political pressure on Israel can replace real negotiation…

6. Pete Buttigieg (D)

(Comment on American Jewish Committee podcast after returning from an AJC Mayors’ trip to Israel – recorded 4 days after 60 mostly unarmed Palestinians were killed by Israeli sharpshooters, 5/18/18) Seeing the way that a country can be on the one hand very intentional, very serious, and very effective when it comes to security and on the other hand not allowing concerns about security to dominate your consciousness. I think that’s a very important lesson that hopefully Americans can look to when we think about how to navigate a world that unfortunately has become smaller and more dangerous for all of us.

(Remark in speech at Indiana University, 6/11/19) 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.

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) Israel’s human rights record is problematic and moving in the wrong direction under the current rightwing government…I’m very worried, especially with some of the latest talk about annexation of the West Bank, that their government is moving away from peace…

7. Julián Castro (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19)  I believe that Israel, like a lot of countries, wants to do the right thing, that they can get better. I do believe that we need to recognize and respect the human rights of Palestinians…Israel has to choose: it’s going to be a Jewish state or a democratic state…I recognize that [a 2-state solution] has been made harder over the years through the increase in settlements…

(Remark at Castro’s Conversations About America’s Future, Austin TX, 3/10/19) Support Israel, remain strong allies, but recognize the value of Palestinians and that they should be treated in a way that we can support on behalf of the country.

(Tweet 4/8/19) In abandoning our position as a good faith partner in the Middle East peace process, the Trump admin has enabled reckless actions like [West Bank annexation] from Netanyahu. US support for a two-state solution is on the line in November 2020.

8. John Delaney (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19)  I think Israel does meet international standards of human rights. I think Israel’s in a very difficult situation, when they’re surrounded by countries who are effectively threatening their existence, and don’t believe they have a right to exist. So I think that puts them in an exceedingly difficult situation in many respects. It’s always in the best interest of Israel to make sure their response to people who are threatening them is as measured and appropriate as possible.

(Remark before a trip to Israel as a candidate for Congress, 7/27/12. The visit included holy sites, Israeli officials and business leaders)  After speaking with community leaders, faith leaders, and voters, across the District during my campaign, I came to understand that visiting Israel was necessary to obtain a full and proper perspective on our relationship with our strongest ally in the Middle East. I felt that it was vital to gain a first-hand understanding of the issues. Israel is a force for greater democracy and stability in the Middle East, and we must support its right to exist in peace and security…As a member of Congress, I will work to ensure that the US-Israel partnership remains strong.

9. Tulsi Gabbard (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) I think that there are some challenges with Israel that need to be addressed. I think that ongoing issues that we continue to see in the conflict between Israel and Palestine are complicated, but there needs to be progress made, ultimately to make sure that both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are able to live in peace and security.

(Tweet following Gaza protest on 5/14/19, in which 60 mostly unarmed Palestinians were killed by Israeli sharpshooters) Israel needs to stop using live ammunition in its response to unarmed protesters in Gaza. It has resulted in over 50 dead and thousands seriously wounded.

(Statement after declining to condemn UN Security Council resolution critical of Israeli settlements, 1/3/17) I know how important our enduring alliance with Israel is. My vote upholds my commitment to maintaining and strengthening this alliance, as well as my long-held position that the most viable path to peace between Israel and Palestine can be found through both sides negotiating a two-state solution. While I remain concerned about aspects of the UN resolution, I share the Obama administration’s reservation about the harmful impact Israeli settlement activity has on the prospects for peace.”

10. Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

(Statement released after more than 200 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, which were in retaliation for Israel’s breaking a ceasefire and killing 14 Palestinians in one night, 11/12/18) The escalation in violence on the Israel-Gaza border is deeply disturbing, and I am relieved that Israel’s missile defense programs were able to avert civilian fatalities from this disgraceful terror attack. I urge calm so the situation does not further escalate, and I still remain hopeful for a long-term, peaceful solution to this tragic conflict. But the only way we will accomplish that is through negotiations that create conditions for safety and economic security — not through rocket attacks or any other acts of terrorism.

(Statement during the 2014 Israeli incursion into Gaza, in which over 2,200 Gazans and 73 Israelis were killed. Gillibrand urged $622 million for Israel, 7/17/14) I stand with the people of Israel in this difficult time and firmly support Israel’s right to self-defense against rocket attacks by terrorists in Gaza. This critical investment will go a long way towards protecting our nation’s strongest ally in the Middle East. We must continue to advance and strengthen the U.S.-Israeli cooperation on missile defense.

(Comment re anti-BDS bill, which Gillibrand had co-sponsored, but then withdrew her cosponsorship, 8/3/17) I’m going to urge them to rewrite it to make sure it says specifically this does not apply to individuals. It has to be very specific that someone who is in favor of BDS can speak their mind and somebody who is against BDS can speak their mind, but you are always allowed to speak your mind. So I’m going to try and get the bill revised so there’s no ambiguity, that it’s just an extension of this foreign policy, which I think does make sense.

(Statement, 1/11/16) Last week, I led a trip with seven of my Senate colleagues to meet with top government officials and military leaders about security concerns in Israel and our other partners in the Middle East. We heard from Israel’s leaders about the constant threat of terrorism they face, and we reaffirmed to them our commitment to supporting and protecting our closest ally and the only democracy in the Middle East.

mike gravel11. Mike Gravel (D)

(Writing for CodePink, describing his relationship with AIPAC, 5/19/19) During my 12 years in the U.S. Senate I enjoyed the support of a number of Jewish organizations, most notably the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the preeminent “pro-Israel” lobbying organization. For a time, I had a perfect voting record in support of Israel…My political rupture with AIPAC occurred over a vote for military aid to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel…AIPAC opposed the [Saudi and Egypt components of the] package…But on this occasion, Sadat’s overture to Israel was too significant a factor [to go unrecognized]…Political positions and decisions within AIPAC were and continue to be profoundly influenced by the Israeli government.

The tragedy is that much of the nation’s progressive Jewish community defers to Likud-like organizations, and too many Jewish donors — as with Christian Zionists — buy into fear-mongering and rationalizations for anti-Palestinian discrimination transmitted from abroad.

(In a piece for Mondoweiss, 6/19/19) [T]he two-state solution is dead, and we have killed it. The signs of its expiration are all around us. More than half a million Israeli settlers live (illegally) in Palestinian territory, and it would be politically, and logistically, impossible for them to be removed peacefully. The increasingly entrenched Israeli hard right—led by toxic figures like Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett—openly advocates annexing “Area C,” which constitutes most of the West Bank…It is also apparent that a two-state solution would likely not be worth the bloodshed and chaos it would cause. So why keep up the charade?

The most obvious and humane path forward is the creation of a secular, democratic, binational state with equal rights for all. That is the model the U.S. government, with its partners in the region, should work toward and publicly highlight as the ideal outcome. This, like any real solution, would disappoint many, both those who want an official Palestinian national homeland and those who want an official Jewish homeland. But this is necessary.

Of course, the sheer power of the Israel lobby in the United States is the main hurdle to such a radical departure from traditional blind support for Israel. Thus the Israel lobby should be restricted; it is time to free American policy from the shackles of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), ZOA (Zionist Organization of America), and other groups…The first step should be mandating that AIPAC register as a foreign lobby under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Next, the U.S. should end military aid to Israel, citing the Israeli military’s complicity in crimes against the Palestinian people. It should call for a gradual demilitarization of Israel and Palestine, and should be clear with the Israeli government that the days of Israel-right-or-wrong are over.

And the U.S. should refuse to take unconstitutional steps to stifle BDS.

It’s time for a mature relationship with Israel, free of the cloying sentimentalities and tired banalities (“Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East”) that infest our political discourse surrounding it. America’s wanton indulgence of the whims of Benjamin Netanyahu and his fellow rightists will only redound to the harm of Israelis and Palestinians years down the line.

12. Kamala Harris (D)

(Statement 1/1/16) The people of the Middle East need a durable peace, and one that protects Israel’s security and interests. In the U.S. Senate, Kamala will be a staunch supporter of Israel.

(1/11/19) So having grown up in the Bay Area, I fondly remember those Jewish national fund boxes that we would use to collect donations to plant trees for Israel. Years later when I visited Israel for the first time, I saw the fruits of that effort and the Israeli ingenuity that has truly made a desert bloom.

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19)  Overall, yes. I think Israel as a country is dedicated to being a democracy and is one of our closest friends in that region, and that we should understand the shared values and priorities that we have as a democracy, and conduct foreign policy in a way that is consistent with understanding the alignment between the American people and the people of Israel.

(Commenting on the Supreme Court building in Israel, 6/28/19) The beauty of the architecture and spirit of design left a lasting impression — the straight lines in the building represent the immutable nature of truth, while the curved glass and walls were built to represent the fluid nature of finding justice. The Court, like Israel, is a beautiful home to democracy and justice in a region where radicalism and authoritarianism all too often shape government.

13. John Hickenlooper (D)

(Comment after flareup in border violence, 5/7/19) The random rocket fire by Hamas into Israel must stop. My heart goes out to the families of the Israelis killed, and those wounded in these grievous attacks. I call on all parties to show restraint and de-escalate this situation immediately.

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19)  Again, there are instances when you can find in almost every country places where there is disagreement for how they treat people or how they resolve internal conflicts. I continue to look at Israel as one of our strongest allies, they have been partners with the United States for a long time. Our challenge is to build on that foundation and help them be able to move towards that two-state solution that, which again, I think almost every Israeli believes is the ultimate goal.

(Interview with Jewish Insider, 6/25/19) We don’t always approve of the decisions of [the] Israeli government but most of us recognize Israel is ally of long standing, one of our strongest allies and even when someone criticizes certain activities of [the] Israeli government, it doesn’t mean we are in anyway diminishing our presence and long term support of the country.

14. Jay Inslee (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) I’m a longtime supporter of a democratic Israel, and I believe we have to have a two-state solution. And I would work with all parties to make sure we have that we have that; of justice for people in Palestine and democracy in Israel. And that depends on a two-state solution and I would work with everyone to achieve that. I think that all countries can improve in all respects. Certainly our ability to foster a future for the Palestinian people needs all of us to up our game. I do not believe that the present government of Israel has followed policies, and those policies can improve to encourage the ability and maintain the access of the future to a two-state solution, and we all need to be dedicated to that.

(Signatory of Governors Against BDS, an initiative of the American Jewish Committee, 12/17/17, which reads in part:) We, the undersigned Governors, reject efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israel—America’s democratic ally in the Middle East— through the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The goals of the BDS movement are antithetical to our values and the values of our respective states…They malign a trusted ally that, while forced to defend itself against repeated and ongoing attempts to annihilate it, has consistently extended its hand in peace to its Palestinian neighbors and to states across the Middle East and around the world. Significantly, the BDS movement would also undermine peacemaking by suggesting that economic and political pressure on Israel can replace real negotiation…

15. Amy Klobuchar (D)

(2/27/19) The Times of Israel called Klobuchar “the candidate most closely aligned with AIPAC.”

New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) Yes [Israel meets human rights standards]. I think Israel, however, under Prime Minister Netanyahu has been doing things that are not helpful to bringing peace to the Middle East. The way that he came out in favor of annexing the Golan Heights, what he has done when it comes to the settlements, the fact that we are not engaging in serious discussions for a two-state solution, our country and the Palestinians and the Israelis, I think that this is setting us back. And so what I would do is to reach out to restart those negotiations again. I think that President Trump has politicized this issue and has not helped in terms of American support for Israel. Israel is our beacon of democracy in the Mideast, and we have a role to play here that is very important and it shouldn’t be politicized the way the Trump administration has politicized it. And when Israel does things that I think are against public policy and international policy, I will call them out on it and I will work with them.

(Tweet following the announcement of Netanyahu’s rightwing coalition, which included radical racists, 2/27/19) This is wrong and has been rightly condemned. To quote the American Jewish Committee, ‘[The views of Otzma Yehudit] do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel.

(Statement on Israel’s 60th anniversary, 5/14/08) [Israel] has been a beacon of democracy that has made the entire world a safer, more hopeful place…the people of Israel must know that wherever forces of intolerance gather to endanger their safety or security, the United States will stand beside them in defying and defeating those foes…

16. Wayne Messam (D)

(After returning from an independent trip to the Middle East, 4/8/19) I just recently returned from an independent fact-finding mission to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, and Tel-Aviv, meeting with top leaders from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict….Over and over again, Israeli and Palestinian leaders made clear to me their desire to negotiate directly for peace. And it’s not just high-profile figures like the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset or the top negotiator for the PLO. It’s also the everyday Israeli and Palestinians – the people I met in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – who quietly shared their hopes for a two-state resolution and fears of what would happen if the region were to disintegrate into an all-out religious war

Regular people are suffering and deserve American leadership, not misguided ideology and partisan talking points. The actions of the United States in resolving this conflict should not just reflect the interests of a small minority of right-wing, ideological voices.

We are not truly secure when our long-time friend and dear ally, Israel, feels threatened to the point of occupying and securing land as a permanent solution, instead of peace. We are not secure when the Palestinians – have been fully disenfranchised, undermining effective diplomacy, yet this is what happens when a real estate developer leads an insular negotiations process that prioritizes right-wing voices over all others…We are not secure when 53 percent of Palestinians live in poverty, including over 400,000 children.

(In an interview with Jewish News Syndicate, 5/9/19) Of course, Israel has the right to defend itself. This is a very complicated situation. I think when we look at the loss of life due to military strikes, it’s just not being condoned or supported. And it does not work towards working to come to a two-state solution. I would support any action that brings peace.

[Regarding the recognition of the Golan Heights] The question is: How does this fare in terms of reaching a two-state solution? My understanding is that it was an executive order. It’s not honored by the United Nations or recognized by the international community. The question becomes, at the end of the day, that it’s important for America to maintain our strong alliance with Israel so we can achieve peace in the region.

17. Seth Moulton (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19)  Israel often does but not always [meet international standards of human rights]. And it’s incumbent on us as an ally to hold them accountable. And I have done that in Congress. I have signed legislation that is sometimes controversial, to say that we will not supply Israel with weapons and goods if they do not uphold standards for the treatment of Palestinian kids in prison for example. Now it’s not that hard for them to do this, and Israel is our most important ally in the Middle East. Now they’re a democracy that we have sworn to protect and we should. But we also have to hold our friends and allies to the same standards that we should uphold ourselves.

(Remark on HR4391, No Way To Treat A Child, 5/27/19) For decades, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has endured despite efforts by leaders within the region and throughout the world to find peace…Despite the challenges, I still believe peace is achievable if parties recommit to negotiations towards a two-state solution that allows both nations to safely live side-by-side.

H.R. 4391 would express a Sense of Congress that any abusive or unnecessarily harsh conditions or treatment of Palestinian children during their detention by the Israeli military is a violation of international law and counter to U.S. and international human rights standards.

H.R. 4391 also prohibits the use of U.S. funds to support any abusive or inhumane detention of children…A 2013 UNICEF report showed that Israeli forces arrest, interrogate, and detain approximately 700 Palestinian children a year. While experiences vary, the Israeli military has been documented subjecting children to harsh and sometimes abusive interrogation methods…America should not support these undemocratic practices. That is why I support H.R. 4391, and I believe it will contribute towards a peaceful resolution to this complex conflict and a lasting two-state solution.

18. Beto O’Rourke (D)

(Explaining why he voted against a House resolution to refute U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, condemning illegal Israeli settlements, 1/5/17) We should be aware of the fact that the U.N. is dangerously preoccupied with Israel…That is of great concern to me—as are other manifestations of this bias, including the Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. There is not enough pressure applied to the Palestinian Authority and those who have leverage with its leadership to refrain from acts of terror, incitement to terror, and the cultural context (including in textbooks) that provides part of the moral underpinning for terror to thrive.

However, the settlement problem is putting at risk the very viability of the two-state solution. And I think that it is in our interest and in Israel’s interest for those settlements to cease if there is to be any hope for lasting peace; and that if settlement construction does not stop, a two-state solution will be unobtainable and Israel will lose the ability to be both a democratic and Jewish state.

19. Tim Ryan (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) You know I think it’s a very complicated relationship that Israel obviously has with Hamas and dealings with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. And I think the United States needs to play a much bigger role in trying to resolve that problem. I think the president has been very disengaged and we need to be a neutral broker, but recognizing the importance of Israel and the relationship we have with them for all of the other relationships we have in that region. Well, I think they could do a better job, and I think we all need to participate in the discussion. The United States needs to maintain in some its ability to broker these peace agreements. The problem today is we are not even really trying.

(After traveling to Israel as part of a House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee delegation, 3/30/16) I was honored to have the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss and reaffirm the important strategic relationship between our two nations. I remain committed to using my position on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee to strengthen partnerships with our allies around the globe, including our most steadfast ally in the Middle East, Israel. Touring the Iron Dome battery further emphasized the importance of this relationship, the need for increased collaboration moving forward, and the value of close friends in the region.

20. Joe Sestak (D)

(Interview with Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, 5/19/10) I strongly support Israel’s security, having visited Israel more than half a dozen times during my naval career. I believe that Israel serves as a vital ally to the United States and that the unique U.S.-Israeli friendship must be preserved and strengthened for generations to come. It is also my firm belief that the successful negotiation of a two-state solution will advance Israel’s security in the region.

The settlements dispute [details here] should not have occurred between the United States and Israel, two stalwart allies. The way it was handled by both nations has not helped bring about a positive engagement. The United States must keep in mind that if Israel does not feel secure, then it is less willing to take risks for peace, and we must continue to ensure that Israel’s security in the region is our No. 1 goal.

Sestak, a retired Navy admiral and 2-term Democratic Pennsylvania congressman, criticized Israel’s blockade of Gaza. He then ran in a Senatorial primary bid against Arlen Specter, the Israel partisan who had just switched from Republican to Democrat. The Dem establishment, including Obama, backed Specter, but Sestak won the primary. Conservative pro-Israel groups spent millions targeting Sestak, who then narrowly lost the general election to Republican Pat Toomey…

(2/24/08) I am proud to have visited Israel at least five times and to have seen firsthand the courage and steadfast resolve of its people. Throughout Israel’s nearly 60-year history, Israelis have fought overwhelming odds to reestablish the birthplace of the Jewish People, and today it remains the only democracy in the Middle East. Surrounded by challenges on all sides, Israel is steadfastly working towards its goals of peace and security.

21. Eric Swalwell (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) Israel is a country that needs to work with the Palestinian people to find a two-state solution. I support putting the US back into the UN Commission on Human Rights. I support increasing aid to the Palestinian people. And I’m going to fire Jared Kushner on day one, because he has no business being on the job of seeking a two-state solution or finding peace in the Middle East. It requires serious scholars and a serious leader committed to making it happen. That’s what I’m going to do on day one.

I would like to see Israel not conduct any further settlements into the West Bank. I don’t oppose any geographical changes in either region, Israel and the Palestinian area, until we have a two-state solution. So I would press both sides; for the Palestinians to sort out who speaks for them, whether it is the PA or Hamas, and for the Israelis to negotiate and have a partner on the other side to seek that two-state solution. But I’m more interested in the future, I’m not going to go back into the past, because the future depends on a stable and secure Middle East.

22. Elizabeth Warren (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) I think that Israel is in a really tough neighborhood. I understand that. They face enormous challenges, and they are our strong ally. We need a liberal democracy in that region and to work with that liberal democracy. But it is also the case that we need to encourage our ally, the way we would any good friend, to come to the table with the Palestinians and to work toward a permanent solution. I strongly support the two-state solution, and I believe that a good friend says to the Palestinians and to the Israelis: come to the table and negotiate. The United States cannot dictate the terms of a long-term settlement for the Palestinians and the Israelis, but what it can do is urge both of them to go there and to stay out of the way — to let them negotiate the pieces that are most important to them for a lasting peace.

(Remark after 2nd week of Great March of Return, 4/12/18. Over 30 mostly unarmed Palestinians had been killed by Israeli sharpshooters.) I am deeply concerned about the deaths and injuries in Gaza. As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.

(Explaining why she did not support the anti-BDS bill, 8/9/17) I think the boycott is wrong, but I think outlawing protected free speech activity violates our basic constitution.

(Letter from Warren and 9 other Senators to PM Netanyahu, 11/29/17) We write today to urge your government not to demolish the Palestinian village of Susiya and the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar. The displacement of entire communities would be an irreversible step away from a 2-state solution, and we urge your government to abandon its efforts to destroy these villages.

(Also read this – Warren voted $225 million to Israel while it was in the midst of its 2014 invasion of Gaza. This year she cosponsored legislation to give Israel $38 billion.)

23. Marianne Williamson (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) I think there are many countries  including the Untied States that behaves in ways that don’t always meet international standards of human rights. As president of the United States I would have an equally robust commitment to both the legitimate security concerns of Israel and the human rights of the Palestinians and the economic hopes and opportunities and dignity of the Palestinian people.

(Remarks during CNN interview, 4/14/19) With me as president, they will know that they have in the United States a president who listens deeply and totally hears; the leaders of the Palestinian authority will know I listen very deeply. In me, you would have a president who says those settlements are illegal. I would rescind the president’s affirmation of sovereignty of Israel over the Golan Heights…[My] love for Israel is second only to my love for the United States…The alliance of the United States with Israel is extremely important. It should be extremely important to all of us. If I’m president of the United States, the world will know, our greatest ally is humanity itself.

24. Andrew Yang (D)

(New York Times interview question, Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights? 6/19/19) Israel is a very very important ally of the US. Certainly, some of the actions that are being taken there are deeply problematic and run afoul of some of the standards we’d like to see countries meet. I’d hesitant to say they are in violation of those standards.

…and one lone Independent

Bernie Sanders (I)

(Statement after Trump announced the plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, and Israeli forces killed several Palestinians protesting the move, 12/5/17) The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response. I’m extremely concerned by reports that President Trump plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. There’s a reason why all past U.S. administrations have avoided making this move, and why leaders from all over the world, including a group of former Israeli ambassadors, have warned Trump against doing it: It would dramatically undermine the prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, and severely, perhaps irreparably, damage the United States’ ability to broker that peace. What the U.S. should be doing now is bringing adversaries in the Middle East together to seek common solutions, not exacerbating tensions in this highly volatile region.

(In an interview for Al Jazeera, a day after nearly 60 unarmed Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers, 5/16/19) Instead of applauding Israel for its actions, Israel should be condemned. Israel has a right to security, but shooting unarmed protesters is not what it is about. Over 50 killed in Gaza today and 2,000 wounded, on top of the 41 killed and more than 9,000 wounded over the past weeks. This is a staggering toll. Hamas violence does not justify Israel firing on unarmed protesters.

(In an interview for NY Daily News, 4/4/16) [W]e cannot ignore the reality that you have large numbers of Palestinians who are suffering now, poverty rate off the charts, unemployment off the charts, Gaza remaining a destroyed area… Israel is not, cannot, just simply expand when it wants to expand with new settlements. I think if the expansion was illegal, moving into territory that was not their territory, I think withdrawal from those territories is appropriate. I happen to think that those expansions were illegal.

I think most international observers would say that the attacks against Gaza were indiscriminate and that a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed. Look, we are living, for better or worse, in a world of high technology, whether it’s drones out there that could, you know, take your nose off, and Israel has that technology. And I think there is a general belief that, with that technology, they could have been more discriminate in terms of taking out weapons that were threatening them.

(Response in Daily News interview to a question about not just halting settlement expansion, but “pulling back” existing settlements) I think if the expansion was illegal, moving into territory that was not their territory, I think withdrawal from those territories is appropriate…I happen to think that those expansions were illegal.

There are going to be demands being made of the Palestinian folks as well…Foreign aid should go to housing and schools, not the development of bombs and missiles.

(From a statement on Middle East policy, 3/21/16) To my mind, as friends — long term friends with Israel — we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. That is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times…But it is important among friends to be honest and truthful about differences that we may have…I am here to tell the American people that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel. But to be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high. So when we talk about Israel and Palestinian areas, it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of suffering among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.

(Remarks during debate with Hillary Clinton, 4/14/16) If we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity. We cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue…I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech. You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians…There comes a time when, if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.

(Response to a question, “would you support a one-state solution with equal rights for all if a two-state solution failed?” 5/6/17) No, I don’t. I mean, I think if that happens, then that would be the end of the state of Israel, and I support Israel’s right to exist.

(Sanders has gone back and forth on Palestine.)


Kathryn Shihadah is staff writer for If Americans Knew. She blogs at Palestine Home


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