Round Three: Ocasio-Cortez backpedals on two-state solution comments

The democratic candidate on Saturday said: "I absolutely believe in Israel's right to exist" but now says she is "speaking to activists."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez marches during the Bronx's pride parade in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 17, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez marches during the Bronx's pride parade in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 17, 2018
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In a clear shift from proclaiming Israel has a right to exist during an televised interview on Saturday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic candidate from New York City, took a neutral stance on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a live conversation on Sunday hosted by left-wing American news program Democracy Now!
The 90-minute discussion was moderated by Amy Goodman and was also attended by Barcelona mayor Ada Colau Ballano.
Near the end of the discussion, Goodman asked the 28-year-old candidate, "are you still for a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine?"
Without taking a firm stance on the conflict Ocasio-Cortez replied: "Well, you know I think this is a conversation that I am engaging in with activists right now because this is huge."
Without specifying which activists she's speaking with, Ocasio-Cortez kept a safe distance from a direct answer and added: "You know, especially over this weekend - and this is a conversation that I'm sitting down with lots of activists in this movement on and I'm looking forward to engaging this conversation."
On Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez discussed her stances on a variety of issues, including education reform, the future of democratic socialism, immigration reform, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during an interview on PBS's talk show The Firing Line.
Toward the end of the interview, host Margaret Hoover turned to the politician's foreign policy positions, referring to a controversial tweet she made during her campaign bid, and asking her what her position on Israel is.
Ocasio-Cortez began by stating that she "believes absolutely in Israel's right to exist" and that she is a proponent of the two-state solution.
When pressed further, she elaborated: "I also think that what people are starting to see, at least in the occupation of Palestine, is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition. And that, to me, is just where I tend to come from on this issue."
Hoover then asked: "You use the term 'the occupation of Palestine'. What do you mean by that?"
In response, Ocasio-Cortez exclaimed "Oh!", paused, and said "I think that what I meant is the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas, in places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes."
The interviewer continued to press her for clarification, at which point Ocasio-Cortez somewhat deflected the request, stating that she is "not the expert on geopolitics on this issue."
"For me, I'm a firm believer in finding a two-state solution in this issue, and I'm happy to sit down with leaders on both of these. For me, I just look at things through a human rights lens."
She concluded by saying that with her background, Middle Eastern politics were not exactly at her kitchen table every night, but that she does recognize it is "a very important issue" and she is willing to listen, learn, and evolve on the issue.
Ocasio-Cortez has previously vocalized her support for the Palestinian cause via social media. In a tweet she wrote during her campaign, which Hoover referenced, the candidate characterized the killing of over 60 Palestinians in Gaza border clashes with Israeli forces as a massacre, and demanded congressional attention.