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Palestinian Authority Takes Aim At Lead American Peace Negotiator
Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy (left), meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on March 14, 2017. (Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian Authority Takes Aim At Lead American Peace Negotiator

Palestinian officials slam Jason Greenblatt for speaking directly to the Palestinian people, whose leadership he claimed lacks “vision”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has taken aim at lead American peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt, calling the White House envoy an “arrogant colonist” and an “ally of [Israeli] settlements.” The denunciation followed the publication of an article by Greenblatt in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds in which he contended that Palestinians “deserve more from their leadership than political statements and bargaining positions.

“While waiting for a possible political solution, it is high time to build the Palestinian economy and provide Palestinians with the opportunities they deserve,” he affirmed.

Greenblatt noted that the PA’s boycott of United States officials—imposed in December following Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital—had not stopped him from meeting with ordinary Palestinians.

Concurrently, President Donald Trump has cut-off at least $200 million in aid to the Palestinians earmarked for humanitarian projects; suspended direct funding to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ government; ended financial support for the United Nations agency tasked with attending to Palestinian refugees; and also closed the Palestinian mission in Washington.

“Greenblatt’s arguments are ignorant as the Israeli occupation is the main obstacle to economic growth in Palestine and greatly infringes on freedoms,” leading Palestinian academic Dalal Erekat contended to The Media Line. She suggested that the U.S. envoy is trying to “mislead” the Palestinian people and circumvent the PA while offsetting its influence.

“The Palestinian people are not allowed to carry out any economic projects,” she stressed, adding that the Ramallah remains “forcibly” dependent on Israel to meet its water and energy needs. Erekat highlighted the fact that Palestinian investment in so-called Area C—which comprises about 60 percent of the West Bank and is inhabited primarily by Jews—would generate nearly $3.5 billion for the Palestinian economy.

Moreover, she accused the Israeli government of pursuing policies to foster dependency, noting that Palestinians have no other choice but to import goods worth over $5 billion annually from Israel. This, in turn, helps the Israeli economy while limiting opportunities for Palestinians.

While the PA previously slammed other American officials, it has been more reserved when it comes to Greenblatt, who by many accounts is well-regarded in Sunni Arab countries and considered relatively even-handed and open to discussing all perspectives.

Hani Masri, a Palestinian political analyst, believes that Greenblatt’s behavior is an extension of the White House’s perceived goal of imposing on the Palestinians a solution to the conflict with Israel. “Trump thinks that what the Palestinian leadership has rejected can be passed through the people, but the majority of Palestinians will not positively absorb or accept what Greenblatt is promoting.

“There are economic interests between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he elaborated, “however the political issue is a different subject and can’t come at the expense of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.”

The U.S.’ much-anticipated peace proposal reportedly has been completed, although there remains internal disagreement on when to present the plan due to the PA’s refusal to engage in any American-led negotiating process and also because of political instability within Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

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