In an interview on NBC News Meet the Press, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was asked if he would move the US embassy out of Jerusalem. He hesitated and stumbled but eventually answered in the affirmative that he would move the embassy in order to “bring people together and try to bring peace.”
Moderator Chuck Todd: A couple of questions. I’m curious. On the issue of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, would you move it back out of Jerusalem, if you thought it was a way to get a peace deal?
Sanders: Yeah. I think it’s something that we should — I can’t give you a definitive answer, but yeah. The answer is, look, whether it is Iran and Saudi Arabia, whether it is Israel and the Palestinians, the United States needs to bring people together, needs an even-handed policy. In Saudi Arabia, for example, for decades, we have supported a murderous regime which fights democracy every single day. So I want an even-handed policy which brings people together.
Moderator Chuck Todd: Would you move the embassy, now, out of Jerusalem? Or would you keep it there for the present?
Sanders: Look, Chuck, that is — we’ll take that one step at a time. It’s something — you know, bottom line is, we need to be a — we are the most powerful country on Earth. Let’s bring people together and try to bring peace.
Last month, Sanders called the current administration of Israel headed by Benjamin Netanyahu a “racist government.” A campaign video posted last month praised the candidate for speaking out “against apartheid-like conditions in Palestine.”
Sanders is considered a strong contender for the Democratic primaries on the basis of his run in the 2016 primaries against Hillary Clinton. Initially considered a long shot, he went on to win 23 primaries and caucuses and approximately 43 percent of pledged delegates, to Hillary Clinton’s 55 percent.
Sanders criticized Israel’s incursion into Gaza following the firing of over 4,600 rockets and projectiles at Israeli civilian centers. At the time, Sanders was criticized by the left-wing for criticizing Hamas’ use of Palestinians as human-shields but later dropped that in his presidential campaign, limiting his criticism to Israel.
Sanders was born to Jewish parents and volunteered for several months on the Israeli kibbutz Sha’ar HaAmakim when a young man.