Greenblatt: Peace deal would ‘reverberate’ through the world
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Greenblatt: Peace deal would ‘reverberate’ through the world

At Arab Summit in Jordan, US envoy says Trump has 'personal interest' in achieving Israeli-Palestinian agreement

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (R) speaks with Jason Greenblatt, the US president's assistant and special representative for international negotiations, during the Arab Summit in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh on March 29, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (R) speaks with Jason Greenblatt, the US president's assistant and special representative for international negotiations, during the Arab Summit in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh on March 29, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt told Arab foreign ministers at the Arab Summit in Jordan Wednesday that Trump is committed to reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians and that such an agreement would “reverberate” throughout the Middle East and the world.

Greenblatt, who in a rare move for a US official attended the summit in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh, albeit as an “observer,” met with the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Qatar on the sidelines of the conference, as well as with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

During those meetings, Greenblatt highlighted Trump’s “personal interest” in an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, and “highlighted the important role regional partners can play in the pursuit of peace,” according to a statement from the US Embassy in Jordan.

Greenblatt also said that he was “not in the region to impose ideas or peace plans on others” but to hear the ideas of regional stakeholders and the role they “can play in the pursuit of peace,” while also reiterating the US’s belief that a peace deal can only be achieved through direct bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

He “urged against unhelpful public rhetoric which only serves to make the path to peace harder.”

“In his meetings, Mr. Greenblatt focused on how tangible progress could be made toward advancing Middle East peace, including a comprehensive agreement between Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement said. “He reaffirmed Trump’s personal interest in achieving a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians and his belief that such a peace agreement is not only possible, but would reverberate positively throughout the region and the world.”

US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the Arab League Summit in Amman, March 28, 2017 (Wafa/Thair Ghnaim)
US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, left, meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the Arab League Summit in Amman, March 28, 2017 (Wafa/Thair Ghnaim)

 

The US Embassy statement made no mention of the two-state solution, which the Trump administration has yet to explicitly commit to despite it being a longstanding tenet of US foreign policy .

Greenblatt returned to the Middle East earlier this week, after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas two weeks ago in an effort to try and jumpstart the long-dormant peace talks.

Despite the regional turmoil and ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen that have pitted members of the Arab League against each other, participants in the Arab Summit used the conference to project an image of unity by emphasizing a “message of peace” and support for the two-state solution.

Jordan’s King Abdullah, who hosted the summit, said on Wednesday that peace in the Middle East is not possible without a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“There can be no peace nor stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause, the core issue of the Middle East, based on the two-state solution,” he said.

“Israel’s continued settlement expansion… undermine[s] chances for peace,” Abdullah said.

He was joined by a number of leading Arab heads of state, including Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Egyptian President Abdul Fatah A-Sissi, who called for a two-state solution, saying it is the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Egypt has sought and continues to seek a comprehensive and just solution to this issue, based on the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said Sissi.

Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman on March 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)
Jordan’s King Abdullah II (R) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman on March 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

Abbas said he looked forward to the support of all 21 Arab countries that attended the summit to end Israeli settlement expansion and increase recognition of the state of Palestine, but “especially from the countries that have recognized Israel, and believe in the two-state solution.”

During the summit, Arab leaders also reaffirmed the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia, which appeared to undercut Israel’s proposal of a regional peace in which normalization with some Arab countries would precede a deal with the Palestinians. Abbas has vehemently opposed this idea, fearing it would further weaken Palestinian negotiating positions.

AP contributed to this report.

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