Greenblatt 'knows no meeting will happen, even if he asks'

Palestinians won’t meet with Kushner, Greenblatt or any US officials on peace

In wake of US administration’s Jerusalem stance, Abbas aide says, PA adamant in boycotting entire Trump team; PA also says Greenblatt, due this week, hasn’t sought Ramallah meet

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (Thomas Coex/AFP)
US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

The Palestinians will not meet with any United States officials regarding the peace process in the future, in response to US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a senior diplomatic adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told The Times of Israel on Sunday.

The open-ended boycott includes Trump’s top peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who is due here this week, as well as the US leader’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

“No one from the American administration will be met to discuss peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, because the [PA] president was very clear on that,” said Majdi al-Khalidi, referring to Abbas’s speech at the Organization of Islamic Countries on Wednesday in Istanbul.

Khalidi added that Greenblatt, who is expected to arrive in the region amid violent protests over Trump’s announcement, did not request a meeting with the Palestinians, with whom he has met on numerous occasions in the past, Khalidi said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, at Abbas’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Greenblatt “knows that no meeting will happen, even if he asks,” said Khalidi.

In his speech in Turkey, Abbas said Trump’s Jerusalem decision meant “the United States has chosen to lose its eligibility as an intermediary. It does not have any role in the political process.”

On Abbas’s remarks, Khalidi said: “The statement of the president is self-explanatory.”

The White House said Greenblatt would come to Israel this week and stay throughout the upcoming visit of US Vice President Mike Pence.

Majdi al-Khalidi (Wafa)

The Palestinians last week canceled a meeting with Pence. According to Pence’s schedule, he will not now be visiting the Palestinian territories at all.

Since the early days of the Trump presidency, Greenblatt has shuffled back and forth between the Israelis, Palestinians and other regional leaders in efforts to restart the peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

The US has been the key mediator between the two sides since the early 1990s.

Palestinians burn Israeli flags next to a poster bearing images of US President Donald Trump (R), his deputy Mike Pence (C) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a demonstration at the al-Quds Open University in Dura village on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Hebron on December 13, 2017.(AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)

In his speech at the OIC, Abbas said he would now work to seek a multilateral international process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict led by the United Nations. He also said the Palestinians would return to seeking full membership at the UN, an effort they had frozen at  the behest of the United States in 2011.

Abbas added that the Palestinians had been engaged with Washington in a new push to reach a peace agreement with Israel, the “deal of our times.” But “instead we got the slap of our times,” Abbas said.

The White House shot back at those remarks, saying that kind of rhetoric from the Palestinian leader had “prevented peace for years.”

“As we have said since the Jerusalem announcement, we anticipated reactions like the ones going on in the region but are going to remain hard at work on our peace plan,” a senior administration official told The Times of Israel on Friday.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state, while Israel considers the whole city its capital.

Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Israel’s capital was welcomed by Israel, while numerous Arab leaders have railed against it. In his remarks, Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

Abbas’s foreign affairs adviser Nabil Shaath told The Times of Israel last week that the PA would continue to communicate with the United States on affairs not connected to the peace process.

US President Donald Trump holds up a signed memorandum after he delivered a statement on Jerusalem from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 6, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

“We think Mr. Trump has acted in a way that makes it impossible for the United States to act as an honest broker. We are just expressing that,” Shaath said.

The US is a central source of aid for the Palestinian Authority. In 2016, the US provided $712 million to the Palestinians, and is the world’s largest supplier of such aid.

Just over half of that funding is given to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA).

In Israel, Greenblatt will meet with European Union representative to the so-called Middle East “Quartet,” Fernando Gentilini, the White House official said.

“The president remains as committed to peace as ever,” the official added.

Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.

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