It is tempting to interpret the announcement of a delay, however brief, in US vice-president Mike Pence’s visit to the Middle East this week as the ultimate travel warning. It follows an eruption of regional unrest over Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
During protests on Friday, Israeli occupation forces killed four Palestinians and injured more than 250.
US officials, however, are not worried about the safety of Mr Pence, who is due in Israel on Wednesday. In fact, predictions of a third Palestinian uprising in response to Mr Trump’s Jerusalem declaration may be premature.
After decades of flagrant US bias towards Israel, Mr Trump has confirmed to Palestinians only what they already knew. Some even grudgingly welcomed his candour. They hope he has finally silenced US claims to being an “honest broker” in an interminable “peace process” that has simply bought time for Israel to entrench the occupation.
The Palestinians’ anger towards Israel and the US is a slow-burning fuse. It will detonate at a moment of their choosing, not of Mr Trump’s.
Rather, the hesitation in Washington over the vice-president’s visit reflects the messy new diplomatic reality that the White House has unleashed.
Mr Pence was due here to smooth the path to Mr Trump’s long-promised peace plan and to highlight the plight of Christians in the Middle East. The door has now been firmly shut in his face on both counts. Palestinian officials have…