This will disappoint supporters of Palestinian rights and it sends a dangerous signal of encouragement to Israel and its extremist supporters who run US policy in the region.
President Donald Trump recognized Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital and announced the embassy move in December 2017.
Ignoring international opinion, the US opened the embassy on 14 May 2018. That same day, Israeli sharpshooters massacred more than 60 Palestinians during unarmed Great March of Return protests in the besieged Gaza Strip.
But Sanders appears ready to let Trump’s illegal action stand.
Watch it above.
No clear commitment
Costa asked Sanders if he would move the embassy back. Sanders replied: “Probably not,” adding, “it would be part of a broader discussion of how we bring peace to the region.”
“Israel, 100 percent, must have the right to exist in peace and security, and not be subjected to terrorist attacks,” Sanders said. “Palestinian people also have the right to live in peace and security.”
Sanders made a general commitment to engage in “bringing people together and working out a solution that works for both sides,” but offered no specifics.
He did not repeat his pledge to use US military aid as leverage to force Israel to end its abuses of Palestinians.
Sanders’ failure to send a clear signal that he will reverse US support for illegal Israeli actions tells Israel and the US administration that any fait accompli they put in place will eventually be recognized and absorbed as irreversible conventional wisdom.
The US also appears to be heading towards recognizing a possible Israeli annexation of all or part of the occupied West Bank.
This is part of Israel’s effort to remake Jerusalem’s past, present and future as exclusively Jewish by erasing its Muslim, Christian, Arab and Palestinian histories and character.
Israel’s destruction of Palestinian homes in the city is escalating sharply.
On Monday, Israeli occupation forces went on a rampage of destruction, demolishing 10 Palestinian-owned buildings containing dozens of apartments in the Jerusalem-area village of Sur Bahir.
A step backwards
Sanders is the de facto leader of the progressive wing of the Democrats. His failure to pledge to oppose and reverse illegal actions by Israel and the United States also tells other party hopefuls that they need not take clear and principled positions on Palestinian rights.
Most Democrats are making cautious rhetorical nods to the party’s increasingly pro-Palestinian base. But Sanders is the only one who has pledged a clear shift in policy by using military aid as leverage to pressure Israel to respect Palestinians’ rights.
The Vermont senator has a decidedly mixed record on Palestinian rights. He stated his opposition to the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions movement while speaking out against legislation backed by the Israel lobby aimed at thwarting BDS.
That was a clear sign that Sanders is feeling grassroots pressure to support Palestinian rights.
But now he is taking a big step backwards. His “probably not” answer effectively gives progressive blessing and encouragement to Israel and the Trump administration to violate more Palestinian rights.
Progressives must not overlook this serious lapse in the hopes that it will somehow help the senator build broader support for other policies they want, such as Medicare for All.
Healthcare for Americans cannot come at the expense of Palestinian rights and lives.
Sanders must be clear that he will reverse the embassy move, rescind US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cancel US recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and end the bipartisan policy of financing, encouraging and rewarding Israel’s crimes.