Posted by Guest on January 23, 2018 in Blog
By Mollie Todd
“We stand with Israel, because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil” – This was just one of several insensible statements from Mike Pence’s speech before the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, on Monday. To some, the speech seemed more like a sermon, as Pence’s rhetoric relied heavily on Biblical references. The event drew much criticism from the Palestinian community and from Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament. During the speech, Palestinian members of parliament were ejected for holding up signs declaring “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and most of the others present rose to their feet and applauded as the lawmakers were escorted out.
In reference to President Trump’s current stance on the situation, Pence remarked, “By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction.” While the U.S. role in peace negotiations has long been biased, this declaration disqualified the U.S. altogether from mediating future talks, having openly become an advocate for one side at the expense of the other.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and various local Christian leaders boycotted Pence’s visit, but that seemed fine for a Trump Administration that’s focused on Israeli interests, and one which has backed away from long-standing U.S. commitments to the two-state solution. Oddly enough, Trump thinks the Palestinians should be grateful that this large “bargaining piece” has been taken off of the table. The reality is altogether different: If the Palestinians cannot even have a stake in their capital, what would motivate them to come to the negotiating table? Between Israeli settlements expanding further and further into Palestinian territory with each passing day, and ongoing occupation restrictions and brutality, the situation looks bleak for the Palestinian peoples.
President Trump once asserted that he is dedicated to finding a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. But his approach has brought aspirations for a two state solution to an abrupt halt. As Trump makes clear that he will not pressure Israel to meaningfully cooperate with Palestinians or improve their human rights conditions, Palestinians have begun to look elsewhere for leadership to push peace forward.
Mollie Todd is a Winter 2017 intern at the Arab American Institute.