US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy on Sunday met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss peace talks with the Palestinians.
“Had a very productive meeting with Netanyahu and his senior staff today to discuss peace talks,” wrote Jason Greenblatt on Twitter.
The meeting came as US-led efforts to restart negotiations appeared at an impasse, with the Palestinians rejecting the United States as peace mediator following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6.
Washington has also moved to cut Palestinian funding, holding up payments to the UN agency that oversees Palestinians and reportedly reviewing the entirety of US aid to the PA. Trump said in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday that the US would not give funds to the PA if it did not enter peace talks.
Palestinian officials have been boycotting Washington since the Jerusalem announcement.
In an interview aired on Sunday, Netanyahu said that Trump has a “very able team” led by Jared Kushner working on brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
He also called them “very creative” during an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria onstage at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The interview, conducted on Thursday, was broadcast Sunday on CNN.
“They have many, many abilities,” Netanyahu said of Kushner and his team. “The thing the people don’t realize is that these people have made their mark in the markets, in real estate. Now, this is not only a real estate deal, it’s fundamentally not a real estate deal but a problem recognizing Israel’s existence, the problem of not recognizing a Jewish state in any boundary. But it also has its real estate elements and they are, I have to say, very creative.”
Netanyahu said he is waiting to see what the Trump administration’s team will come up with and will not rule out anything until then. He also called on the Palestinians to “stop kvetching, you know. Let’s get on with it. Sit down, enter the room, start negotiating.”
The prime minister called it a “fantasy” to think any other country than the United States can broker a peace agreement.
Addressing Palestinian claims that the United States is no longer an honest broker, Netanyahu said: “(I)f you want to enjoy the services of the great power, they can also summon economic resources and political support, I think it’s great for a potential peace deal. There’s no one else other than the United States, and I say this, I never said it differently. You know, I’ve had my ups and downs with American administrations. I never said, Well, I’m not going to talk with this or that administration because, you know, they’re more favorable to the Palestinians than for Israel. You never heard me say that.”
“You want peace? Get your act together. See what the United States offer is and get in a room and negotiate,” he said.
Netanyahu told Zakaria that Trump “did a great service for peace, because peace can only be based on truth, on reality, and denying the simple fact that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem is— pushes peace backward by creating an illusion, a fantasy. You can’t build peace on fantasy. You can have a vision, but it has to be grounded in reality.” He said that Jerusalem should remain united under Israeli sovereignty even under a peace agreement.
Netanyahu said that his vision of a peace agreement would give the Palestinians “all the powers to govern themselves, but none of the powers to threaten us.” He added: “Israel will retain the overriding security control. But other than that, the Palestinians will be free to govern themselves. And I don’t think there’s any problem with that.”
Earlier on Sunday, Greenblatt toured a tunnel dug by Palestinian terrorists under the Gaza border, and slammed the Hamas terror group for using funds to bolster its military capabilities, rather than deal with the Strip’s worsening humanitarian situation.
Israel has announced the discovery of several tunnels on the Gaza border recently dug by Hamas, the de facto ruler of the Strip, and the Islamic Jihad terror group.
On Twitter, Greenblatt slammed Hamas for building tunnels and stockpiling rockets instead of providing for the Strip’s 1.5 million citizens.
“Hamas wastes resources on tunnels & rockets to attack Israel, instead of helping the people of Gaza by getting the lights on, the water flowing & the economy growing,” he wrote.
“Hamas spews hateful rhetoric & foments a vicious cycle of violence. Gaza deserves better!”
Hamas wastes resources on tunnels & rockets to attack Israel, instead of helping the people of Gaza by getting the lights on, the water flowing & the economy growing. Hamas spews hateful rhetoric & foments a vicious cycle of violence. Gaza deserves better! pic.twitter.com/nQGvqwo9gb
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) January 28, 2018
In October, Greenblatt said a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction would only work if Hamas disarmed, which has remained a sticking point in the nascent detente.
The terror group slammed his statement at the time as “blatant interference.”
Last week Greenblatt, who has remained in the region in the hopes of jumpstarting peace talks, slammed Hamas for holding Israelis captive, meeting with the families of captured citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the families of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, whose remains are being held by the terror group.
Today I again met with family members of Avera Mengistu & Hisham al-Sayed. Avera has been held by Hamas since he disappeared in Sept 2014. Hisham has been held by Hamas since he disappeared in April 2015. How reprehensible of Hamas to cause such horrible suffering. pic.twitter.com/vdY7e2HY3t
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) January 25, 2018