The New York Times: Interactive: Candidates on Israel

The Context
In Israel, a two-state solution — long viewed as the only workable end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — appears more distant than ever after President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embraced a plan that appeared to tilt the outcome in Israel’s favor. Mr. Trump’s decision in 2018 to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was deeply polarizing. So is the B.D.S. (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, which has grown increasingly prominent and which the House condemned in a bipartisan resolution last year.

Should the United States maintain its current level of military aid to Israel? If not, how should the level of aid change?

Michael Bennet: Yes.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.: Yes.

Michael Bloomberg: Yes.

Pete Buttigieg: Mr. Buttigieg did not answer this question.

Amy Klobuchar: Yes.

Deval Patrick: Yes.

Bernie Sanders: Yes, but that aid can be conditioned on Israel taking steps to end the occupation and move toward a peace agreement.

Bernie believes that U.S. aid should be conditioned on a range of human rights concerns. American taxpayers shouldn’t be supporting policies that undermine our values and interests, in Israel or anywhere. That’s why, when Bernie is president, he will use every tool at his disposal, including the conditioning of military aid, to create consequences for moves (such as settlements or annexation) that undermine the chances for peace.

When we talk about conditioning aid, it’s important to note that this isn’t about singling out Israel, it’s about acting in an even-handed way in the region and making sure that American tax dollars do not go to supporting human rights abuses by any country.

Tom Steyer: I would consider making military aid to Israel conditional based on freezing settlement construction.

Elizabeth Warren: Israel is an important ally, and I am committed to Israel’s security and safety, and to working together to combat shared threats. But it is also critical to preserve the viability of the two-state solution. In some cases, this may mean finding ways to apply pressure and create consequences for problematic behavior by both parties, as previous Democratic and Republican presidents have done. Today, the continued expansion of Israeli settlements and the increasing normalization of proposals for Israel to annex parts or all of the West Bank are the most immediate dangers to the two-state solution. I will reverse the Trump administration’s new policy on settlements, which upends 40 years of bipartisan precedent, and make clear that Israeli settlements violate international law. And if Israel’s government continues with steps to annex the West Bank, the U.S. should make clear that none of our aid should be used to support annexation.

Andrew Yang: Yes.

Do you support the B.D.S. movement? If not, should the president and/or Congress act to hinder it?

Michael Bennet: No. I believe strongly in constitutionally protected free speech and in the ability of individuals to exercise that right, including by criticizing Israeli government policies. I am concerned about elements of the B.D.S. movement that disagree with Israel’s right to exist and believe the U.S. government must stand against those efforts that seek to delegitimize Israel.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.: No. The B.D.S. movement singles out Israel — home to millions of Jews — in a way that is inconsistent with the treatment of other nations and too often veers into anti-Semitism and efforts to delegitimize Israel. That’s wrong, and as president, I would oppose B.D.S. efforts in Congress. We should be mindful, however, that steps to sanction supporters of B.D.S. may be inconsistent with First Amendment protections of free speech, as several federal courts have concluded.

Michael Bloomberg: No. Mike has long opposed the B.D.S. movement, which undermines one of our most important allies and the only democracy in the Middle East. He is a vigorous defender of free speech. He has supported the right of B.D.S. members to speak on college campuses. But he believes government funds should not be used to support the B.D.S. movement, which is antithetical to our foreign policy, our national security and our democratic values.

Pete Buttigieg: No to both. In response to an A.C.L.U. survey last year, Mr. Buttigieg said, “I strongly support Israel and personally oppose B.D.S. as a strategy for pressuring the Israeli government toward a two-state solution. But an American’s right to political expression, including in the form of boycotts, is a constitutionally protected right.”

Amy Klobuchar: No.

Deval Patrick: No. I do not support the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. I believe it is counterproductive to our ultimate goal: a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate. As president, I would press for that with all of the diplomatic, educational, economic and social leverage available to the United States. I believe a two-state arrangement is essential to securing Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state as well as Palestinians’ right to nationhood and an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. I also believe the First Amendment likely prevents the president or Congress from inhibiting Americans’ free expression of their views on this subject.

Bernie Sanders: No. While Bernie is not a supporter of the B.D.S. movement, he believes that Americans have a constitutional right to participate in nonviolent protest.

Tom Steyer: Israel is a loyal ally of the United States. I believe in an individual’s democratic right to express themselves and not purchase goods according to their conscience.

Elizabeth Warren: No. I do not support the boycott, but I think outlawing protected free speech activity violates the Constitution.

Andrew Yang: No. I do not support anything that does not help us get closer to achieving a two-state solution, but I will always defend Americans’ First Amendment rights.

Should the United States Embassy in Israel be moved from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv?

Michael Bennet: No.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.: No.

Michael Bloomberg: No.

Pete Buttigieg: No.

Amy Klobuchar: No.

Deval Patrick: No.

Bernie Sanders: Not as a first step. But it would be on the table if Israel continues to take steps, such as settlement expansion, expulsions and home demolitions, that undermine the chances for a peace agreement.

Tom Steyer: Yes.

Elizabeth Warren: As president, I will take immediate steps to re-establish America’s role as a credible mediator by reopening an American mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem. I would also make clear that in a two-state agreement, both parties should have the option to locate their capitals in Jerusalem — one for Israel and one for a future Palestinian state. If Israel takes steps counter to peace, I am prepared to freeze or reverse the limited embassy functions that have moved to Jerusalem.

Andrew Yang: No. The status of Jerusalem should remain a part of any negotiated two-state solution, and we should be mindful of both Palestinian and Israeli negotiators before deciding where the embassy should be.

Should all Palestinian refugees and their descendants have the right to return to Israel?

Michael Bennet: The right of return should be decided during direct negotiations between Israel and Palestinian representatives with the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.: This is a final status issue that must be agreed to by both parties.

Michael Bloomberg: No.

Pete Buttigieg: Mr. Buttigieg did not answer this question.

Amy Klobuchar: Senator Klobuchar will commit to a meaningful Mideast peace process that combines — not separates — the political and economic tracks, has buy-in from Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world, and ultimately leads to direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians themselves that can lead to a two-state solution. She believes this issue should be addressed as part of those negotiations.

Deval Patrick: No.

Bernie Sanders: The right of refugees to return to their homes after the cessation of hostilities is an internationally recognized right, but this issue will be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians as part of a peace agreement.

Tom Steyer: This is an issue that should be determined by both parties in negotiations for a final status agreement.

Elizabeth Warren: No. Like all people, every Palestinian refugee should have the right to citizenship and dignity. The fate of Palestinian refugees is one of the core issues of the conflict, and there must be a just settlement negotiated between the two sides. Through prior negotiations, a range of remedies have been developed, including Palestinian refugees returning to the new state of Palestine, obtaining permanent residency or citizenship in the countries where they reside, resettlement in other countries of their choosing, and a negotiated number returning to Israel. There should also be an international fund to compensate Palestinian refugees.

Andrew Yang: Yes.

Do you support the establishment of a Palestinian state that includes West Bank land as demarcated by pre-1967 borders, except for longtime Israeli settlements?

Michael Bennet: Yes.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.: Yes, except for longtime Israeli settlements or other land swaps and arrangements negotiated by the parties.

Michael Bloomberg: Yes.

Pete Buttigieg: Mr. Buttigieg did not answer this question.

Amy Klobuchar: Senator Klobuchar will commit to a meaningful Mideast peace process that combines — not separates — the political and economic tracks, has buy-in from Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab world, and ultimately leads to direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians themselves that can lead to a two-state solution. She believes this issue should be addressed as part of those negotiations.

Deval Patrick: Yes.

Bernie Sanders: Yes, if the settlement issue is negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.

Tom Steyer: I support a two-state solution. The pre-1967 borders are a starting point for negotiations — however, the exact borders should be determined by the parties in final status negotiations. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the longest-running and thorniest conflicts in world history. We must help the two sides reach an agreement that provides peace and stability to both Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state solution.

Elizabeth Warren: Yes. Any two-state agreement should be based on the 1967 lines, with agreed-upon modifications such as reciprocal land swaps.

Andrew Yang: Yes.

If you answered yes to the last question, what will you do to achieve that where past administrations have failed? If you answered no, what solution do you envision to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Michael Bennet: America has a long, proud history of leadership on this issue. The next president will have an opportunity and responsibility to forge the U.S. leadership role as we look to confront tomorrow’s challenges.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.: I believe a two-state solution remains the only way to ensure Israel’s long-term security while sustaining its Jewish and democratic identity. It is also the only way to ensure Palestinian dignity and their legitimate interest in national self-determination. And it is a necessary condition to take full advantage of the opening that exists for greater cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors. For all these reasons, encouraging a two-state solution remains in the critical interest of the United States.

At the moment, neither the Israeli nor Palestinian leadership seems willing to take the political risks necessary to make progress through direct negotiations. This inherent challenge has been made even more difficult by President Trump’s unilateralism, his move to cut off assistance to the Palestinians, and his equivocation on the importance of a two-state solution. My administration will restore credible engagement with both sides to the conflict. America must sustain its ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. It is also essential to resume assistance to the Palestinian Authority that supports Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, people-to- people programs, economic development, and humanitarian aid and health care for the Palestinian people.

My administration will urge both sides to take steps to keep the prospect of a two-state outcome alive. Palestinian leaders should stop any incitement and glorification of violence, and they must begin to level with their people about the legitimacy and permanence of Israel as a Jewish state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Israeli leaders should stop the expansion of West Bank settlements and talk of annexation that would make two states impossible to achieve. They must recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian aspirations for statehood. Both sides should work to provide more relief to the people of Gaza while working to weaken, and ultimately replace, Hamas. And Arab states should take more steps toward normalization with Israel and increase their financial and diplomatic support for building Palestinian institutions.

Michael Bloomberg: Intense negotiations by the parties offer the best chance for success. The U.S. has an important role to play in fostering these discussions.

Pete Buttigieg: Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign referred The Times to his answer to a similar question from the Council on Foreign Relations:

The U.S. alliance with Israel and support for Israel’s security have long been fundamental tenets of U.S. national security policy, and they will remain so if I am elected president. But this is not a zero-sum game. The security of Israel and the aspirations of the Palestinian people are fundamentally interlinked. To visit the West Bank and Gaza is to understand the fundamental need for a two-state solution which addresses the economic, security and moral rights of both Israelis and of the Palestinians who live there.

I have clearly and strongly stated my support for the security of Israel, and I have also said that I disagree with policies being carried out by the current Israeli administration. This includes overreach in the West Bank and Gaza and shortsighted focus on military responses. The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza has gone on far too long and provides a ripe environment for the very extremist violence that threatens Israel.

The United States needs to put its arm around the shoulder of its ally, Israel, and help it to develop policies that will work towards the economic and security benefit of both Israel and the Palestinians. Both Israeli and Palestinian citizens should be able to enjoy the freedom to go about their daily lives without fear of rocket attacks or other violence and to work to achieve economic wellbeing for their families. A two-state solution that achieves legitimate Palestinian aspirations and meets Israel’s security needs remains the only viable way forward.

Amy Klobuchar: Senator Klobuchar will commit to a meaningful Mideast peace process that combines — not separates — the political and economic tracks, has buy-in from Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab world, and ultimately leads to direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians themselves that can lead to a two-state solution. She believes this issue should be addressed as part of those negotiations.

Deval Patrick: Israel’s right to exist is beyond question. Israel is also a vital democratic ally in the Middle East. At the same time, the Palestinians’ right to self-determination within a democratic framework must be acknowledged and addressed. For that reason, I support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and would press for that with all of the diplomatic, educational, economic and social leverage available to the United States. Pressing for a two-state arrangement is essential to securing Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state as well as Palestinians’ right to nationhood and an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The United States should be prepared, in coalition with our allies, to guarantee the security of Israel. We should also be prepared to guarantee the integrity of the negotiated borders of a democratic Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.

Independent Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty, during my administration, will form part of a comprehensive strategy in the Middle East that involves defending Israel, countering violent extremism, and promoting economic development and collaboration. We will work with partners in Iraq and beyond to mend the Sunni-Shia rift. We must also counter the threat of a nuclear Iran and, through diplomacy, ease tensions around the Gulf. We will rebuild strategic alliances to win back the ground we have lost against regional adversaries, including ISIS, after President Trump’s damaging decision to withdraw from Syria. I will also work with Congress to pursue a regional development package to strengthen cross-border ties through new, incentive-driven investment in technology, energy and infrastructure.

Bernie Sanders: When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, credible United States leadership is desperately needed. Bernie is a strong supporter of the right of Israel to exist in independence, peace and security. But he also believes that the United States needs to engage in an even-handed approach toward that longstanding conflict, which results in ending the Israeli occupation and enabling the Palestinian people to have independence and self-determination in a sovereign, independent, economically viable state of their own. In his view, that end result would be in the best interests of Israel, the Palestinian people, the United States and the entire region.

The parameters of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are well known. They are based in international law, in multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, and are supported by an overwhelming international consensus: two states based on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states. Ultimately, it’s up to the Palestinians and Israelis themselves to make the choices necessary for a final agreement, but the United States has a major role to play in brokering that agreement.

As president, Bernie will put real pressure on both sides, including conditioning aid. The U.S. gives a lot of aid to both Israel and the Palestinians, and it’s totally appropriate to withhold that aid when they do things we don’t like.

When we are in the White House, we will restore funds to U.N.R.W.A., a major element of U.S. efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bernie will call upon Israel to end policies that violate international humanitarian law, such as home demolitions and settlement construction in the occupied territories, and work to ensure that U.S. aid is not used to support these activities. Bernie will also continue to condemn violence against civilians by all sides.

Tom Steyer: I support a two-state solution. The pre-1967 borders are a starting point for negotiations — however, the exact borders should be determined by the parties in final status negotiations. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s longest-running and thorniest conflicts in world history. We must help the two sides reach an agreement that provides peace and stability to both Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state solution.

Elizabeth Warren: A two-state solution is good for U.S. interests, good for Israel’s security and its future, and good for Palestinian aspirations for dignity and self-determination. To achieve this, there must be an end to the Israeli occupation and the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip living alongside Israel.

As president, I’ll take immediate steps to fix the damage caused by Donald Trump’s reckless policies. I’ll welcome the Palestinian General Delegation back to Washington, because we cannot advance peace when we have closed our channels of communication. I’ll resume aid to the Palestinians that the Trump administration has cut off, because we cannot sustain peace without a future that brings greater freedom, prosperity, and security to the Palestinian people.

I will also put greater emphasis on relieving the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip. I will seek a political arrangement that ends the rocket attacks, lifts the blockade, and facilitates the political reunification of Gaza with the West Bank. And I will make it clear to the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships that incitement and incentivizing terror against civilians is unacceptable.

A longer-term danger is the incredulity gap that has been created amongst the young Israelis and Palestinians who simply do not believe that peace is possible, where hope has been replaced by fear and mistrust. We need to work to lay a foundation that enables Israelis and Palestinians to overcome the broken status quo and move towards a brighter future — one where Israelis and Palestinians can live together in peace, freedom, security and prosperity.

Andrew Yang: The only acceptable end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict involves a two-state solution that allows both the Israeli and Palestinian people to have sovereign land and self-determination. With the Israeli and Palestinian people leading the conversation, my administration would engage with all stakeholders to come up with confidence-building measures, such as a ceasefire and an end to the expansion of settlements. Coming together to provide aid to those suffering in Gaza can also be an opportunity for all parties to work together to handle the humanitarian crisis. Additionally, I would revamp our development assistance to include health and cultural programs.