The Trump administration’s recent decision to allow the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) mission in Washington—the de facto embassy of the Palestinians—to remain open, despite a law that demands its closure, has led many to conclude that the latest drama on the Israel-Palestine front has been resolved. This is false. The crisis was not defused but merely delayed, with new conditions imposed by the Trump administration that make the status of the mission even more precarious than before.
Moreover, this crisis points to an increasingly unavoidable conclusion: where in the past U.S. laws and policies were designed to keep the Palestinians out of any peace process, based on the view that Palestinian participation was anathema to Israel, today that logic has largely been reversed. American policy now seems to be aimed at locking the Palestinians in a peace process, more or less indefinitely, that severely limits the Palestinians’ diplomatic options and independent decision-making. In both cases, the overriding objective has not been conflict resolution but shielding Israel from pressure.