Borders. Jerusalem. Palestinian refugees.
One by one, the U.S. is taking core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict off the table. President Donald Trump’s administration says it’s trying a new approach after a quarter of a century of peace talks failed.
But by chipping away at the issues the Palestinians care about as it radically reshapes American policy, the administration may actually be making peace harder to achieve -- if not inviting another eruption of violence.
“By coming in and unilaterally rewriting the rules of the game, the Trump administration is removing itself from the role of mediator,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former U.S. State Department diplomat involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the Obama administration.
“Many of these steps don’t make sense if you try to square them with an effort to reach a solution to the conflict,” said Goldenberg, who now heads the Mideast program at the Center for a New American Security, a research center.
Last week, Washington stopped funding the United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees, saying it perpetuates their refugee status. UN ambassador Nikki Haley said the Palestinian’s key demand for millions of refugees and their descendants to return to lost homes in Israel -- which could efface its Jewish character -- should be ruled out. No alternative has been offered.
With the U.S. still not releasing details about its proposed Middle East peace plan, the Palestinians view the Trump administration as flagrantly biased in Israel’s favor and have cut off contacts with it.
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