The Trump administration expanded its staff assigned to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the recent hire of art historian and conservative blogger Victoria Coates who has advocated moving the U.S embassy to Jerusalem. Coates is now the senior director for international negotiations and will work under special envoy Jason Greenblatt.
Coates is an internal hire from the Trump administration. She most recently was part of Trump’s National Security Council and previously was an adviser to a number of Republican officials, Donald Rumsfeld, Ted Cruz, and Rick Perry.
With most of her political career behind the scenes, there is not a wealth of statements from Coates on her views about Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Cruz’s record on Israel while Coates advised him displays support for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and cutting all U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority. She worked under Cruz when he introduced legislation to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In 2016 while advising Ted Cruz, Coates referred to the West Bank as a part of Israel–“a piece of the country,” when giving a statement against removing the “made in Israel” label on goods produced in settlements. Al-Monitor reported:
Cruz is a strong believer in Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed West Bank territories it calls Judea and Samaria, Victoria Coates said. The new guidance, she said, instead treats products from that area as coming from “Never-never land.”
“It just doesn’t make sense. Where were they made?” Coates said. “You can’t just erase a piece of the country.” The guidance, she added, is a first step toward a boycott of Israeli products that Congress and the administration have both said is unacceptable.
During this period, her online footprint signals an austere pro-Israel position that embraces Israeli annexation of the West Bank at the expense of Palestinian statehood. For instance, Coates retweeted a 2016 post on an article written by Daniel Pipes, a noted anti-Muslim activist, which called for an “Israeli victory” and a “Palestinian defeat” to end the conflict. Pipes authored his vision for the Middle East in Commentary magazine, before launching a congressional caucus to push his policy initiatives, which include hard-line positions to the right of those of Israel’s ruling party, notably: “Insisting that Jordan is Palestine,” “Excluding disloyal Palestinians from Israeli citizenship,” and “Expelling Palestinians from lands controlled by Israel.”
On a separate occasion, Coates retweeted conservative Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby’s slight of Palestinians, when he described ancient Israelites as “Israel’s only indigenous people.”
And she has been a one-person band for moving the embassy.
This is rich, coming from the man who has caused more than one regional explosion: https://t.co/qav4JILWMN
— Victoria Coates (@VictoriaCoates) January 7, 2017
It’s time to do what Congress said we should do in 1995: move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel https://t.co/FlhSdUPdcE
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 3, 2017
There is a way to change this you know. https://t.co/UCf23tcP1r
— Victoria Coates (@VictoriaCoates) January 3, 2017
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 3, 2017
Excellent. All we have to do is lead the way. https://t.co/lrwYU9V5pL
— Victoria Coates (@VictoriaCoates) January 2, 2017
Rumsfeld plucked Coates from obscurity in the art field in 2009 when he was working on a memoir about his years as Defense Secretary. His aides had been following Coates’s blog postings on Red State under the pseudonym AcademicElephant (a number of her blog posts have since been updated to give her real name as byline). In a 2011 post she rejected the Obama administration’s attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians along the 1967 borders. Coates wrote that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was right to be “hostile” towards Obama’s effort:
“What the President is asking is that more than 70% of that history be erased, beginning with the reasons it was deemed necessary to annex the territories in 1967, and continuing on through the failed diplomatic initiatives, UN humiliations and relentless, deadly terrorist attacks of the past decades.”
According to the conservative outlet the Washington Free Beacon, Coates was initially tapped by Trump to work on Iran, not Israeli-Palestinian affairs:
Multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter said the selection of Coates represents a strong effort by the Trump administration to counter Iran, reverse the contested nuclear deal, and place a central focus on countering the threat of Islamic terrorism.