WASHINGTON (JNS) — Julian Castro, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary and current Democratic presidential candidate, said on Thursday that if elected, he would keep the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem.
U.S. President Donald Trump relocated the embassy there from Tel Aviv in May 2018, just months after recognizing Jerusalem as Israel“s capital.
“The actions of this president when it comes to Israel and Palestinians in the Middle East has been counterproductive in helping ensure a two-state solution,” Castro told JNS on a conference call for members of the media. “I believe that he made a mistake in moving the embassy to Jerusalem without making that part of a larger, negotiated peace agreement and a two-state solution.”
“However,” said Castro, “I also don’t believe that it would be productive to go backwards at this point.”
He added, “I believe that we need to work to ensure that we’re both respecting the human rights of Palestinians and also working with Israel, our ally, as they forge a new government with a new opportunity to pursue a two-state solution.”
Other candidates who’ve pledged to keep the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem include former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson.
At the annual J Street conference in October, Castro expressed support for opening a U.S. consulate in eastern Jerusalem and “make clear that under a two-state approach, that would be the embassy to a Palestinian state.”
He also called for restoring U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and the U.N. agencies supporting the Palestinians. If elected, he said that he would reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington, D.C., which the Trump administration shuttered in October 2018.