Pete Buttigieg
Pete ButtigiegReuters

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg said on Thursday that Palestinian Arab leaders are not “the right kinds of partners” for peace, but also said that Israel’s leaders need American guidance, JTA reported.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a former naval intelligence officer, made the comments at a meeting with several dozen representatives of Jewish groups held in Washington, D.C.

One of the “biggest problems” facing American policy with respect to Israeli and Palestinian leadership, he said, is “we don’t have the right kinds of partners in leadership on the Palestinian side, is that we have to invest more energy in constraining their worst impulses than in trying to get a good outcome.”

The right approach to Israel, he opined, “comes about when you have an ally or a friend that is taking steps that you think are harmful and you put your arm around your friend and try to guide them somewhere else.”

The Jewish representatives at the meeting included Alan Ronkin, a regional director at American Jewish Committee; Mark Mellman, founder of the Democratic Majority for Israel group; and Norman Goldstein, vice president for Israel and Overseas at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Buttigieg, who has served as mayor of South Bend – home to some 100,000 residents – since 2012, announced in January that he had would pursue the Democratic party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential election.

Last month, the 37-year-old slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s pledge to annex Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, calling it a “provocation”.

“This provocation is harmful to Israeli, Palestinian, and American interests. Supporting Israel does not have to mean agreeing with Netanyahu‘s politics. I don’t. This calls for a president willing to counsel our ally against abandoning a two-state solution,” he said.

Buttigieg made similar comments in a talk Thursday with The Washington Post, according to JTA.

“Being supportive of Israel does not have to mean that you are on board with the agenda of the Israeli political right wing. I am not. I believe that this move to walk away from peace will harm Israeli interests, will of course continue to contribute to the immiseration of the Palestinian people, and is not good for the US either,” he told the newspaper.

Buttigieg also accused the White House of welcoming those who “are blatantly anti-Semitic” and excusing “people who walk the streets chanting ‘Jews will not replace us.’”

Therefore, he said, there is no merit to Republicans calling on “Jews on mass should leave the Democratic Party.”

Buttigieg is one of 23 candidates seeking to secure the Democratic presidential nomination and challenge President Donald Trump in next year’s election.

Other candidates include former Vice President Joe Biden, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Kamala Harris, Congressman Eric Swalwell and Senator Cory Booker.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was the most recent candidate to enter the race, having officially announced last Thursday that he is joining the Democratic presidential primary.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)