Yesterday, Trump’s State Department characterized Palestine as part of Israel, seeming to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire West Bank.
Said Arikat, a reporter for the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, asked State spokesperson Robert Palladino about US service to Palestinians once the U.S. consulate is merged with the embassy in South Jerusalem, reportedly next month.
Palladino assured Arikat that the U.S. will still be involved with “all of Israel.”
ARIKAT: On the 4th of March the U.S consulate in… Jerusalem will close its doors after 175 years. The Palestinians, who have always gone to the consulate over these 175 years to get visas, to do their affairs to emigrate to America, look after things and so on, will no longer be able to do that. Do you have any comment on that? Breaking a strong and deeply rooted American tradition.
PALLADINO: We have an embassy in Jerusalem, as you know, and we have active involvement in all of Israel from our embassy.
The State Department under Trump has generally characterized the occupied Palestinian territories of Golan, West Bank and Gaza as outside Israeli sovereignty and said that even Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem is subject to negotiations.
Former ambassador Daniel Shapiro told Jewish Insider that the consolidation of the embassy and consulate is part of the “slide toward a binational state” and a threat to the supposed two-state solution:
“Finalizing the merger before rolling out the peace plan is an indicator that Trump is not pursuing a two-state solution. That’s a mistake. It accelerates the slide toward a binational state.”
Palladino would seem to be affirming that stance: There is one state between the river and the sea.
The question of a Palestinian state has not been an issue in the Israeli elections, though Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to portray his chief rival, Benny Gantz, as a supporter of withdrawing from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and Gantz has denied that charge, saying merely that he wouldn’t build settlements “wildly” and thereby foil diplomatic initiatives. (He is reported to favor offering Palestinians “a West Bank-based state without the Jordan Valley or Jerusalem and, if they refuse, to withdraw unilaterally,” per Yossi Alpher).
Palladino also dodged the question of evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem to make way for illegal Jewish settlers. He’s aware of the story, but is obviously indifferent:
Arikat: On the 17th, the Israeli army removed a Palestinian family from their home in East Jerusalem, in the Old City, and they immediately replaced them by settlers. Does that bother you? I mean, your ally the UK issued a statement condemning this action. And at what point does it become ethnic cleansing? When there’s 10 homes or 20 homes or 30 homes? In your view.
PALLADINO: I’m aware of that report but I don’t have any further details on it, so I would refer you to the Government of Israel on that.