Greenblatt tells ToI: US won’t propose Israel-Jordan-Palestinian confederation
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ExclusiveEnvoy gives Times of Israel general outline of US peace plan

Greenblatt tells ToI: US won’t propose Israel-Jordan-Palestinian confederation

Trump’s envoy says impending peace plan will be ‘heavily focused on Israeli security needs’ but will also aim to be ‘fair to the Palestinians’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, left, meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, June 20, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, left, meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, June 20, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The US administration’s forthcoming peace proposal does not call for a tripartite confederation consisting of Israel, Palestine and Jordan, Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations, said.

“We’re not looking at a confederation model,” Greenblatt told The Times of Israel during a recent meeting in New York.

Last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Greenblatt and Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner asked him about his view of such a confederation.

“I said [to Kushner and Greenblatt]: Yes, I want a three-way confederation with Jordan and Israel,” Abbas said at the time.

In this Thursday, June 21, 2018 photo, provided by Egypt’s state news agency, MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, meets with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, second left, and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt on the latest stop in a regional tour to discuss a blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, in Cairo, Egypt. (MENA via AP)

Speaking to The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Greenblatt declined to provide detailed information about the administration’s peace plan, but agreed to give a broad outline.

“It will include a resolution to all of the core issues, including the refugee issue, and will also focus on Israel’s security concerns,” he said. In fact, he added, the proposal will “be heavily focused on Israeli security needs.”

“But we also want to be fair to the Palestinians. We have tried hard to find a good balance. Each side will find things in this plan that they don’t like. There are no perfect solutions,” he added.

US President’s peace process envoy Jason Greenblatt, left, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the President’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Last month’s UN General Assembly focused heavily on the US’s policies vis-a-vis the Middle East, with many in the international community criticizing Washington’s drastic and sudden funding cuts to agencies aiding Palestinians, such as the refugee organization UNRWA.

But Greenblatt said he was “very encouraged” by the meetings he held in New York. “Not every country agrees with everything we do on the Israeli and Palestinian front, but there was not a single meeting in which we were told that countries would not work with us. Everybody has a strong desire to work with us, despite the policy differences we may have.”

On September 26, at a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the sidelines of the General Assembly, Trump for the first time publicly expressed his preference for a two-state solution, though he later clarified that he would back any framework Israelis and Palestinians agree on.

“If the Israelis and Palestinians want one state, that’s okay with me,” the president said at a press conference. “If they want two states, that’s okay with me. I’m happy, if they’re happy.”

US President Donald Trump answers a question about people laughing at him the day before at the UN General Assembly while holding a press conference in New York City, on September 26, 2018. (John Moore/Getty Images/AFP)

A senior US administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times of Israel that Palestinians should see Trump’s comment about his preference for a two-state solution “as an opportunity to start engaging with us.”

Following Trump’s December 6, 2017, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the PA broke off contact with the White House, arguing that the Trump administration could no longer be viewed as an honest broker, and vowing to dismiss the upcoming peace proposal without reading it.

“There needs to be a dialogue. No progress will be made if we don’t talk to each other. But we will release the peace plan even if the Palestinian leadership does not talk to us,” the senior administration official said.

“We think the Palestinian people deserve to see it and decide if it is the right path forward. They certainly should not be prevented from seeing it and considering it. The reality is that we are trying to help them achieve a free society. A leadership that blocks this effort is the opposite of what it means to have a free society,” the official added.

“We’ll release the plan when the time is right.”

As opposed to previous peace proposals, the current blueprint will be “very detailed,” the official added.

“Previous peace proposals were brief and vague, and no one really understood what exactly was meant by some of the terms used. We will present something that will give both the Israeli and the Palestinian people a concrete idea of what a peace deal could look like,” he said.

“It’ll be very specific so that they can tell their leaders what they think about it. In the end, we want people to think about whether our plan can make their lives better and is worth the compromises.”

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