Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old socialist who secured a stunning Democratic primary win over New York Rep. Joseph Crowley last month, struggled to explain her stance on what she described as the “occupation of Palestine” during an interview Friday with PBS’s Margaret Hoover.
“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,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez responded when pressed by Ms. Hoover to explain her past comments criticizing Israel.
Asked to explain her use of the word “occupation,” the congressional candidate replied, “Oh, I think what I meant is that the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to housing and homes.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez later acknowledged that she was not an authority to speak on the matter.
“I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue,” she said, laughing. “You know, 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, and I may not use the right words.
“I know this is a very intense issue,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez added. “Especially with the district that I represent, I come from the South Bronx, I come from a Puerto Rican background. And Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night.
“But I also recognize that this is an intensely important issue for people in my district, for Americans across the country. And I think what’s at least important to communicate is that I am willing to listen. And that I’m willing to learn and evolve on this issue as I think many Americans are.”