On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting this month, US President Donald Trump will hold meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Yet it is hard to see how Trump’s mind could focus on the most intractable issue in international affairs, when one party — Israel — is not interested in engaging in any peace talks, and the other side is domestically threatened by hard-liners who object to any Netanyahu-Abbas meeting.
A senior US State Department official who recently visited the region told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, things at the State Department are quite chaotic. There is no coherent Middle East policy, and most decisions are made by the White House, or more precisely within the Oval Office. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is probably the most sidelined secretary of state on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in a very long time.