October 28, 2019 2020 Candidates

Jewish News Syndicate: Bennet pledges to keep US embassy in Jerusalem, dodges question on Golan Heights

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said on Monday that, if elected, the U.S. embassy in Israel would remain in Jerusalem.

“I would keep the embassy in Jerusalem, although I think the terms of that should have been part of the negotiated two-state solution even though Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel,” he said in response to a question from JNS at a press conference prior to his remarks at the annual J Street conference in Washington, D.C.

Bennet declined to answer when asked by JNS whether or not he would keep U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition in March of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Trump moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018.

In addition to Bennet, other candidates who said that, if elected, they wouldn’t move the embassy back to Tel Aviv include South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg; spiritual guru and author Marianne Williamson; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); Sen. Cory Booker, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), on the other hand, would move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv.

In his remarks in front of the J Street audience, Bennet criticized the Israeli government for building neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria.

“I don’t think they should be building settlements, and I do think we should be doing anything we can to limit the settlements that are being built,” he said.

“I’ve often said I would never want anybody I know to be as malevolent or as cynical as [Senate Majority Leader and Kentucky Sen.] Mitch McConnell is, but I do think we need to be as strategic as Mitch McConnell is, and I think we need to be as strategic as [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu is,” elaborated Bennet.

The senator said Netanyahu got “a permission slip” from the Trump administration to do what it wants, including in the West Bank. He even said, “We gave up our democracy,” when Trump was elected president in November 2016.

Along with Bennet, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have addressed this year’s J Street conference.

They were all interviewed by the hosts of the weekly podcast “Pod Save the World,” former National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor and former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes to “discuss the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship, their visions for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, their plans to combat the growing threat of white supremacy and more,” according to an email from J Street ahead of the conference.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) are scheduled to address the conference on Monday night.

The conference concludes on Tuesday, when participants will lobby J Street’s agenda on Capitol Hill.