Stories by Aaron David Miller

Expert Voices

U.S. adds strain to Palestinian ties with Jerusalem consulate merger

Israeli flags flutter in front of the Dome of the Rock in the Jerusalem's Old City, on February 19, 2019.
Israeli flags in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. official announced yesterday that the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, which serves Palestinians, will be absorbed into the new U.S. Embassy to Israel in March.

Why it matters: The move is of a piece with the administration's attempts to recast the Palestinian refugee issue and its apparently tenuous commitment to a two-state solution. The merger is yet another demonstration of the Trump peace team's determination to change U.S. policy toward core elements of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, both on paper and on the ground.

Expert Voices

Trump administration signals potential U.S. reset on Israel–Palestine

Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting at UN Headquarters, July 24, 2018 in New York City.
Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on the Israel–Palestine conflict on July 24, 2018, in New York City. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Press reports this week have suggested the Trump Administration is preparing to take some action, potentially including defunding, against the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the much-maligned organization created in 1949 to provide assistance to Palestinian refugees. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley agreed on Tuesday that Palestinian refugees’ right of return — a demand critical to Palestinians and anathema to Israel — ought to be off the table.

The big picture: The administration may be ramping up pressure on the Palestinians ahead of rolling out Trump’s peace plan — his so-called Ultimate Deal. But criticism of UNRWA — an object of derision for Jared Kushner and other members of Trump’s peace team— might instead be part of a campaign to completely reset U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Expert Voices

Even after flare-ups, hope lingers for Israeli-Palestinian resolution

medical workers approach Israeli-Gaza border fence with arms up
Medical workers approach the Israel-Gaza border fence on May 15, 2018. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Anyone viewing this week's split-screen images of happy Israelis and Americans celebrating the U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem alongside the confrontation and killing at the Israeli-Gaza border fence could be forgiven for writing off the prospects for peace.

Where it stands: Whether the two-state solution is merely dead or fully dead and buried, a number of factors have combined to stall its progress and make further deterioration much more likely. Yet in a Friday morning conversation I moderated at the Wilson Center with PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and former Israeli negotiator Gilad Sher, a mutual conviction that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved still emerged.