The Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot, said Thursday that the Trump administration is acting in support of the ‘Greater Israel’ project and against Palestinian statehood.
Zomlot was speaking at a talk hosted by the LSE’s Middle East Centre.
The ambassador, previously posted to the United States before the Trump administration’s closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington D.C., addressed a number of topics pertaining to the peace process and the international community’s role going forward.
Describing the Trump administration’s approach as akin to that of a magician, Zomlot urged attendees “not to be distracted by the right hand, while the left hand is doing something else”.
“All this talk about a so-called ‘peace plan’ and an ‘ultimate deal’ is a tactical distraction”, Zomlot declared. “In the meantime, the Trump administration has been abandoning the two-state solution, taking Jerusalem off the table, taking refugees off the table, and allowing [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to proceed with settlement construction”.
According to Zomlot, this misdirection tactic is one of three the Trump administration has employed.
“The administration’s officials have approached us like unscrupulous real estate buyers; first they throw a couple of rats into the building, then they create a parking problem outside the building with the city council, and then finally, the seller will sell up for half the value”.
Another tactic used by the Trump administration, Zomlot said, is akin to the use of barking dogs to try and scare the cattle destined for slaughter down the lane towards their doom.
According to the ambassador, “denationalising the Palestinian issue is the aim”, calling the closure of the embassy in the US a “real blow to the collective representation of the Palestinians”.
The significance of the move, Zomlot added, is heightened by the shuttering of the consulate in occupied East Jerusalem whose work, he only half-jokingly predicted, would become a section of the newly-relocated US embassy named ‘Arab and minority affairs’.
As well as denationalisation, the ambassador continued, the Trump administration has also sought to de-internationalise the Palestinian issue. “Why was our embassy closed? Because we went to the International Criminal Court, because of our reversion to international mechanisms”.
He added that during Nikki Haley’s term as US ambassador to the United Nations, her task was the dismantlement of the international framework when it comes to Palestine.
“This is the Greater Israel project that has been unfolding and being implemented”, he said. Whereas the US used to play the role of Israel’s lawyer, Zomlot declared, in a reference to famous remarks made by former State Department official Aaron David Miller, Trump is “Israel’s police”.
Zomlot, who while serving in Washington found himself in the middle of tumult of Trump’s first year in office, said that the White House had made a number of incorrect assumptions, including that the Palestinian response to their actions would be weak.