Democratic hopefuls addressed the US-Israel relationship when asked by an audience member whether they would move the American Embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv, during a debate in South Carolina on Tuesday night. The primary in the state will take place on Saturday.
Senator Bernie Sanders was first confronted about his decision to skip the AIPAC conference, being asked "what would you say to American Jews who worry you're not supportive enough of Israel?" Sanders responded, saying that he is "proud of being Jewish," mentioning his time spent living in Israel. "But, what I happen to believe is that right now – sadly, tragically in Israel, through [Prime Minister Benjamin] Bibi Netanyahu – you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country," Sanders said.
"And I happen to believe, that what our foreign policy in the Mideast should be about is absolutely protecting the independence and security of Israel," he continued. "But you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. We have got to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians [and the Israelis]."
Asked about a possible move of the embassy, he said "it's something that we would take into consideration."
Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg said "you can't move the embassy back. We should not have done it without getting something from the Israeli government. But it was done and you're going to have to leave it there."
"The only solution here is a two-state solution," Bloomberg continued. "The Palestinians have to be accommodated. The real problem here is you have two groups of people, both of whom think God gave them the same piece of land – and the answer is to obviously split it up."
Senator Elizabeth Warren said that Israelis have a right to security, "and the Palestinians have a right to be treated with dignity and to have self-determination."
"That is a two-state solution, but it's not up to us to determine what the terms of a two-state solution are," she added."We want to be a good ally to everyone in the region. The best way to do that is to encourage the parties to get to the negotiating table themselves. Donald Trump's big mistake is he keeps putting a thumb on the scale on just one side, and that moves the parties further away from working out their own solution."When asked about a possible embassy move, Warren said "we should let the parties determine the capitals themselves."