The State Department is just facing a crisis over budget cuts, but the entire Foggy Bottom bureaucracy is facing an even more massive crisis over credibility, influence, and access. Even though the State Department press briefings have resumed on a semi-regular basis, the Department of State doesn’t have much work to report out. Particularly on Israel. There hasn’t been a shortage of wave making policy announcements on President Trump’s Israel and Palestinian policy, but none of that has gone through the traditional channels and experts at the State Department. In fact, on the Trump administration’s first diplomatic trip to Israel to assess many of the issues involved in peace negotiations – particularly settlements – the State Department isn’t even represented. The White House domination of foreign policymaking seems to be most Trump’s preferred style, but it really is hampering the expertise department – we can’t help but point out that prior to this trip Jason Greenblatt – who is representing the administration on their first delegation to Israel - had only ever met Palestinians who were employees at his yeshiva school inside an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. While the State Department insists that they are “supporting” Greenblatt’s trip, it seems pretty clear that the State Department doesn’t have a roll in crafting U.S. policy anymore. Now is really not the time for a completely unknowledgeable President to be sidelining experts in the State Department in favor of newcomers like Greenblatt and the yet-to-be-confirmed future Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. Especially now that the United Nations is getting serious about apartheid-like economic realities in Palestine, and with the U.S. commitment to the United Nations hanging on by a thread of a thread, flawless diplomacy is needed now more than ever.

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