White House Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt (right) chats with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in June during the dedication of a Jewish archeological site in a Palestinian neighborhood of Jerusalem. (Tsafrir Abayov – pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinians See Proof of Failure in Greenblatt Exit

PA official calls resignation of US Mideast peace envoy ‘opportunity’ for Trump Administration to ‘rethink’ approach

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Middle East peace, has announced he’ll be leaving his post.

According to administration officials, Greenblatt’s departure will wait until the US rolls out the political part of its long-awaited peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians sometime after the Israeli national election on September 17. It unveiled the plan’s financial segment last June during a conference in Bahrain.

Greenblatt has been a main pillar of President Trump’s Mideast team. He has worked alongside Trump’s powerful son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

His resignation could throw the future of the troubled peace initiative – it has already been rejected by the Palestinian Authority – into a swirl of ambiguity. The team itself has come to be viewed by the Palestinians as an extension of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies.

The PA has yet to officially respond to the news, but a high-ranking official in Ramallah told The Media Line he hoped that Greenblatt’s departure would create an “opportunity” for the White House to “rethink” its policy toward the Palestinians.

“His resignation,” the official said, asking to remain unnamed, “is a result of the growing conviction by the US administration that implementing the plan as originally conceived is not  going to be easy. This does not mean that America will abandon attempts to pressure the Palestinian side, but Greenblatt’s flight means he does not trust all the promises he and his team have made.”

Monir al-Jaghoub, spokesman for the Fatah movement of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, told The Media Line the resignation was proof that the Trump Administration’s approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had failed.

“The resignation of the US envoy is not the end of the ‘Deal of the Century,’ but an explicit acknowledgment by the administration that it is facing serious obstacles,” Jaghoub said, referring to the peace plan with a moniker that on the Palestinian side is used with great derision. “The amateur envoys can no longer face it. They have failed.”

Together with Kushner and Friedman, Greenblatt has spent the last two-and-a-half years attempting to achieve a breakthrough with the plan. One example of the difficulty is reflected in Abbas’s boycott of administration figures since the end of 2017, when President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

PA officials have repeatedly clashed with Greenblatt on social media, calling him a spokesman for the Israeli Right.

The White House has also slashed millions of dollars in financial aid to the Palestinians.

President Trump had warm words on Twitter for his former lawyer.

“Jason has been a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer,” Trump tweeted, praising his “dedication to Israel.”

Netanyahu thanked Greenblatt “for his dedication toward peace and security, and for never hesitating for a moment to speak the truth about Israel in front of those who defame it.”

The prime minister, who is facing a tough reelection campaign – as well as possible criminal indictments for alleged corruption – has generally played down the US peace plan, knowing that while the Trump Administration is viewed as particularly friendly toward Israel, the plan could entail serious concessions that would be highly unpopular with his voter base.

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