Though President Trump has recently backtracked on his muted stance toward illegal Israeli settlement construction, telling an Israeli daily that he does not believe that “settlements are a good thing for peace,” his relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to be a close one. Trump has signalled his support for Israel’s right-wing government, for instance, through the nomination of David Friedman, a hardline pro-settler lawyer, to be the US ambassador to Israel. Friedman’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. In the meantime, Trump and Netanyahu will meet today in Washington, with Netanyahu likely focused on securing continued US diplomatic, military, and financial support with little if any room for the human rights of Palestinians.
Yet Trump’s presidency is caught in a highly polarized political environment, and the once unconditional support for Israel and elision of Palestinian rights in the United States is changing. The question of Palestine is on track to become a divisive issue in American politics – and one that Palestinians and the Palestine solidarity movement can join together to use in their struggle for Palestinian rights.
In order to fully understand the budding relationship between Trump and Netanyahu, one must examine their common approaches to issues of national security, immigration, and racial and religious profiling. It is this shared right-wing vision that will be a point of continued cooperation between the two governments, especially against the backdrop of a more polarized political environment. Evidence to support this can be found in the fact that Trump drew on Israel and Netanyahu’s policies to support two of his most controversial plans: the “Muslim ban” and the wall on the US-Mexico Border.