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New York

Tuesday 20th March 2018

Trump Envoy: Under No Illusions of the Challenges to Israel-Palestine Peace Deal


Abdelraouf Arnaout

Thu, 16 May 2019 09:26 GMT

Several previous US administrations have tried in vain to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but this time assistant to US President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, seems confident that the current US administration’s effort is different. 

“We have carefully studied past efforts and have tried to learn from them. Many smart and talented people have worked on this issue over many years,” Greenblatt told 7Dnews.

“Our approach is quite different and has been to acknowledge realities and focus on speaking the truth,” Trump’s envoy to the Middle East added.

Greenblatt didn’t discuss the details of the long-awaited plan, known in the media as the “deal of the century”, but said, “Our plan is grounded in the logic and truths of 2019” without elaborating.

“We have decided to develop the ideas and solutions so that everyone can truly understand the many benefits they can achieve if they proceed with our plan, as well as the compromises needed to reach peace,” the assistant to US President Donald Trump added.

Greenblatt was answering questions submitted by 7Dnews through email.

For more than two years, Palestinian officials have insisted the plan, still to be revealed, is unfair.

The Palestinians grounded their position in December 2017 with the decision by President Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and, later, on moving the US embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018.

Palestinians insist that any solution should be based on a two-state solution; a Palestinian state on the borders of its 1967 territory, with East Jerusalem as a capital, next to the state of Israel.

On his part, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli media last month that he will study the plan when it is released.

Many Palestinian, Israeli and international analysts and politicians expect the US to face difficulty in solving the decades long conflict.

“We are under no illusions of the challenges we face in what many consider to be one of the hardest problems to solve in modern times. Ultimately, our goal is to help expand freedom, respect, opportunity, and security for the two parties and the region,” Greenblatt said.

Expecting the plan to be released next month, the Palestinians said that they plan to accelerate their diplomatic efforts towards the Arabs, the EU and other countries to declare a position refusing any plan that does not endorse the two-state solution.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a meeting of the Palestinian cabinet on April 29th, “We have told the Arab League that we will not be patient, we are against the ‘deal of the century’".

“Europe must work more for a two-state solution,” he added.

Palestine cut diplomatic contacts with the current US administration back in December 2017 to express anger at the US decision recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Greenblatt expressed anger over the Palestinian decision to reach out towards the international community against the US plan.

“It is very short-sighted of the Palestinians Authority to pre-emptively ask the international community to reject something they haven’t even read. We believe everyone should support the peace effort, unless they are against peace or against improving Palestinian lives,” Greenblatt said.

“There are those who might not like our current policies, and we understand that. But that does not mean they can then honestly say they are against the plan which they have not yet seen,” he added.

The Special Representative advised the world to be patient and read the plan before judging it, saying, “We’ve asked everyone to continue being patient and to not prejudge the plan. We believe we have developed a plan that is detailed, realistic, fair and implementable; one that will enable people to live better lives”.

He added, “Once everyone sees the plan, they’ll understand why it has taken us this long to release it. We do hope everyone will keep an open mind so that there can be a meaningful dialogue once the plan is released.”

Unlike other peace plans, the US administration has managed to keep the details of the plan secret until now, something unprecedented since the Oslo agreement in 1993; despite international, Arab and Israeli media publishing what it is purported to say, in recent months.

Refusing to discuss the details of the plan, the US administration has kept denying those reports.

“I see those false reports nearly every day. While I am grateful there is so much interest in the plan and a potential path forward, for a brighter future for Israel and the Palestinians, Jared Kushner, Ambassador David Friedman, and I respectfully ask that people stop guessing and putting out fake stories,” Greenblatt said.

He added, “I try to publicly push back against these harmful rumours when I can but they have been multiplying lately. The general rule of thumb should be that if you don’t hear it from me, Jared, or Ambassador David Friedman, or the President, Secretary Pompeo or Ambassador Bolton, then it may not be true, so be careful what you listen to.”

Indeed, many of the Palestinian officials acknowledged privately that their position was based several times on those reports.

But the US administration’s silence on Israeli settlement activities and refusing to endorse the two-state solution, together with the US decisions regarding Jerusalem, along with stopping US funding to the Palestinians (including the UNRWA), made the Palestinian position much harsher.

Early next month the Muslim month of Ramadan will end. In addition, the Israeli prime minister’s efforts to form a new government will be concluded. Then, the long-awaited plan is expected to be revealed.

“Our goal is to present the plan at a time when it’s most advantageous for all involved. As we have said many times, we will release the plan after the upcoming holidays in the region, including Ramadan, and after Israeli government formation,” Greenblatt told 7Dnews.

“Beyond that, everyone will have to wait and see. We have not decided on the exact timing,” President Trump’s Special Representative added.

Middle East