On Tuesday, United States Vice-President Mike Pence was in occupied Jerusalem and insisted that Washington should retain its dominant role as mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In so doing, Pence sent a clear message to Palestinian negotiators that the US firmly believes it has the historical and moral leadership necessary to be an honest broker in any process and progress — a rebuff to Palestinians in their attempts to have the European Union take over that leadership role.
It’s ironic that Pence should utter his comments — and that he did so in occupied Jerusalem — merely serves to underscore how out of touch this White House administration is with the political reality on the ground in Palestine and across the wider Middle East, when it comes to resolving this conflict that has festered for the past seven decades. Barely a month ago, US President Donald Trump had ripped up decades of diplomatic thinking and tossed aside the accepted political wisdom of negotiators and nations alike when he recognised occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Pence needs to be reminded that it took a rarely used veto against the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the 11 other rotating members to quell the fallout from his superior’s highly egregious decision.
This US administration has placed so much emphasis on reaching a peace deal when it came to office first that Trump appointed his son-in-law Jared Kushner — a political neophyte whose only connection to Palestine was dining on the Manhattan cocktail circuit, where wealthy scions served up Zionist zeitgeist with canard canapes.
The current White House administration’s policy on any Palestinian-Israeli peace deal is shaped by the right-wing rabbis who sit around the Cabinet table of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is no coincidence that Netanyahu was one of the first out of the gate to travel to Washington to meet the incoming president in the White House days after he took office last year.
Let’s be clear on this issue: Right now, the White House has no moral authority when it comes to Palestine, be that either in working behind the scenes, through 250-character diplomacy on Twitter, or by brokering any meaningful talks. By recognising Israel’s sole right to occupied Jerusalem, this administration has wilfully and deliberately trampled on the historical and present rights of all Palestinians, be they Muslim or Christian. President Trump has arrogantly abrogated any responsibility in Palestine for now.