During a town hall meeting in Iowa, South Bend Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told a questioner that the situation in Gaza was a humanitarian crisis, but that multiple forces were to blame for the current conditions.
At the Mason City event, an exchange student from Gaza asked Buttigieg about American attitudes about the region, which he said concerned him. Buttigieg’s response was reported on Twitter by Huffington Post reporter Daniel Marans.
Buttigieg responds to a question from a Palestinian about providing relief to the people of Gaza.
"The conditions in Gaza are horrifying. They are a humanitarian crisis. Like many failures, this failure has many fathers."
He cites Egypt, Israel. U.S., intl community, Hamas.
— Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) November 4, 2019
“The conditions in Gaza are horrifying and they are a humanitarian crisis,” responded Buttigieg, “Like many failures, this failure has many fathers. And we need to recognize that there is a lot of blame to go around for how we got here. I think that not only should Israel be respecting the human rights of people in Gaza, but Egypt could be doing things differently. The international community could do a better job, the U.S. could do a better job, and, obviously, I’m not a fan of Hamas either. So there’s a lot of problems….”
In his remarks, Buttigieg also referenced the United States’ unique relationship with Israel. “And as Israel’s greatest friend in the international community, the United States also has a responsibility as you would anytime you see a friend acting in a way that you think is not helpful, to put our arm around our friend and try to guide things toward that way.”
At last week’s J Street conference, Buttigieg reiterated previous promises to condition military aid to Israel if the country ended up annexing the West Bank. He also seemed to indicate that he would be open to conditioning aid if Israel continued to expand its settlements. We need to make sure that any such cooperation and funding is going to things that are compatible with U.S. objectives and U.S. law,” said Buttigieg, “It is a reminder that we need to have the visibility to know whether U.S. funds are being used in a way that are not compatible with U.S. policy.”
Despite being one of the first candidates to broach the issue of military aid, Buttigieg has positioned himself as one of the most pro-Israel candidates running for the nomination. After returning from a 2018 trip to Israel organized by the American Jewish Committee, Buttigieg made a number of statements praising the country. “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,” he told an interviewer, “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.”