Even compared with the volatile nature of Israel’s decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territories, the last few weeks have been marked by extraordinary tensions and deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
But when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel this week, he only reiterated Washington’s longstanding positions on the conflict: an “ironclad” commitment to Israel, a call for calm, and rhetorical support for the two-state solution.
Almost everything that Blinken said during a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday was drawn — at times verbatim — from previous State Department statements.
George Bisharat, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, said the US administration views occasional eruptions of violence in Israel-Palestine as “inconveniences to be managed” while maintaining unconditional support for the Israeli government.
“From the United States’ point of view, let’s be real: They don’t give a damn about Palestinian lives,” Bisharat told Al Jazeera.
“They only care to the extent that these flare-ups interfere with what the United States perceives to be its strategic interests in the region, which have nothing to do with human rights — of anybody, not just the Palestinians.”
Blinken’s visit comes after a Palestinian gunman on Friday fatally shot seven Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem after Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in one of the deadliest days in recent memory.
Despite the mounting tensions, the US administration is unlikely to change course soon, said Annelle Sheline, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a US-based think tank.
“The Biden administration policy towards the Middle East in general, and Israel specifically, is premised on maintaining the status quo, and not acknowledging the ways that the status quo is shifting under their feet,” Sheline told Al Jazeera.
“It is long past time for a new approach, but I don’t think we’re likely to see one,” she added.