On the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and on Iran, the State Department, under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is reported to be in “open war” with the White House.
Key high level positions remain vacant as Obama holdovers “continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda.” Tillerson has reportedly run interference to protect the Obama holdovers from being removed, allowing resistance to President Trump’s foreign policy agenda to flourish within the State Department.
The first casualty of this internal coup by the State Department is Israel. The shadow of the Obama administration’s anti-Israel bias was reflected in a report the State Department released on July 17, 2017 entitled Country Reports on Terrorism 2016. It praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for reiterating “his commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through peaceful means.” The report referred to what it called “significant steps during President Abbas’ tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence."
The State Department report brushed aside clear evidence of a continuing barrage of incendiary rhetoric appearing on official Palestinian Authority and Fatah social media outlets and of inflammatory statements by Palestinian officials, including Abbas himself. Instead, it claimed that the Palestinian Authority “has made progress in reducing official rhetoric that could be considered incitement to violence.”
The State Department report conveniently skipped over the fact that Abbas remains committed to paying regular salaries to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned for killing Jews and to terrorists’ families. Their perfidiously named "Martyrs Fund" has a treasure chest of about $300 million dollars. That blood money comes in part from foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, some of which is contributed by American taxpayers. President Trump has spoken out against the 'pay to slay Jews' terrorist payments, but the State Department has turned a blind eye. Obama holdover Stuart Jones, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, is reported to have steered Secretary Tillerson into making the erroneous claim that the Palestinian Authority had ceased spending U.S. taxpayer funds to pay terrorists.
After reciting the litany of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis, the State Department report held Israel largely responsible:
“Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.”
Just a few hours after three members of an Israeli family were massacred by a Palestinian terrorist, a State Department official tried to defend the report’s conclusions on the drivers of Palestinian violence. The official sounded like a clinical psychologist or a social worker, declaring that there is “no one single pathway to violence—each individual's path to terrorism is personalized, with certain commonalities.” This is the same type of irresponsible rhetoric used by the Obama administration in discussing the supposed root causes of what it called “violent extremism.”
The State Department has also carried over the Obama administration’s soft pedaling on Iran. Instead of presenting options to President Trump supporting a refusal to re-certify that Iran has complied with all of its obligations under the disastrous Obama nuclear deal with Iran, the State Department took Iran’s side. It recommended twice that President Trump sign certifications of Iran’s compliance. Deprived by the State Department of any analysis to the contrary, as he had requested, the president reluctantly signed the certifications in April and July. However, he has reportedly decided to sidestep the State Department going forward and rely instead on a White House team to prepare the way for refusing to sign the certification the next time it is presented to him. CIA Director Mike Pompeo, senior strategist Steve Bannon, and deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka opposed the State Department’s recommendation.
Foreign Policy quoted one senior State Department, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying, “The White House, they see the State Department as ‘the swamp.’”
The State Department is a swamp infested with Obama holdovers such as Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, the former Iran director for Obama’s National Security Council, who helped push through the Iran deal. When she moved over to the State Department during the waning months of the Obama administration, she was assigned to oversee the Persian Gulf region policy planning portfolio, which included issues related to Iran. She continued in that high-level advisory position until April of this year, when she was re-assigned to the Office of Iranian Affairs. In other words, a strong supporter of the Iranian nuclear deal with a vested interest in its continuation was on Secretary of State Tillerson’s policy planning team. Secretary Tillerson no doubt relied on this tainted team for input into his decision to recommend the first certification signing last April. Ms. Nowrouzzadeh is still working on Iranian-related issues for the State Department where she can do some damage. However, at least she is no longer part of the Secretary of State’s brain trust.
President Trump, not State Department bureaucrats, was elected by the American people.
Saboteurs within the State Department and other government agencies should be rooted out immediately and removed from their positions of influence since they appear to be very aggressively undercutting Israel and the president’s ability to respond to Iran’s increasing support for international terror operations.