In January, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken touched down in Israel at a time when prospects for reviving the so-called peace process looked grimmer than ever. A week before his arrival, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. The next day, a Palestinian opened fire on Israeli settlers in the illegal settlement of Neve Yaakov in occupied East Jerusalem, killing seven people.
The surge in violence was the consequence of disturbing wider trends. 2022 saw the most Palestinians killed by Israelis since 2006, and the election of a far-right Israeli governing coalition with prominent members openly calling for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians—not to mention an unprecedented expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, skyrocketing attacks by settlers, and the rapid displacement of Palestinians.
For the Biden administration, the Israeli government’s unapologetic embrace of the far right presented an opportunity to live up to its lofty human rights rhetoric and restore respect for U.S. diplomacy shattered by the Trump administration. It was an opportunity to demand accountability from the leaders responsible for the deteriorating situation.
Instead, Israel was let off the hook and Palestinians were being told, once again, that they must wait and put their faith in a process that betrayed them long ago. Standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Blinken mechanically reiterated Washington’s support for a “two-state solution” and pleaded for both sides to restore calm.
By reverting to obsolete talking points that are being abandoned across the board, including by the man standing beside him, Blinken proved that not only is the U.S. government out of touch with reality, but it is actively refusing to acknowledge it. More important, the events after Blinken’s visit showed the world that Washington’s strategy is backfiring.
Instead of preserving the status quo of a stable Israeli occupation with minimal resistance from Palestinians and the international community, the Biden administration’s obstinate refusal to hold Israel accountable is in fact enabling its violent implosion.