Palestinians blast Trump’s ‘Zionist American’ peace envoy

Angered at perceived US efforts to replace its current leadership, PA says Jason Greenblatt’s efforts ‘have no chances of succeeding’

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90/File)
US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90/File)

A series of statements made by US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt in the past few days has outraged the Palestinians, who are calling him a “Zionist” who has endorsed extremist Israeli positions.

The Palestinian Authority said Monday that Greenblatt’s efforts to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israel “have no chances of succeeding.”

The Palestinians are particularly angered at what they believe is a US effort to replace the current leadership of the PA.

Greenblatt, in a speech before the annual conference of the Institute for National Strategic Studies, said that the United States “is as committed as ever to reaching an agreement that guarantees a peaceful, prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians. That’s why this administration continues to work on developing a peace plan that can bring both parties to the table.”

He added, “It is easy to walk away from the table. But that helps no one and reduces or perhaps even eliminates the chances of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement, and that would be terrible for the Palestinian people.”

US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, left, meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2017. (Flash90)

Greenblatt also defended US President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “When President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he was not rewriting history, he was recognizing a historic reality,” he said.

Greenblatt dismissed Palestinian charges that Trump’s move was an attempt to determine a final status outcome. “The president was absolutely clear that the United States has not prejudiced any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” he said.

At a meeting in Brussels of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, a 15-member body that serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinians, the US envoy dismissed allegations that the Trump administration was sabotaging development by threatening to cut funding to the Palestinians.

“The United States has been the single largest donor to the Palestinians in history,” Greenblatt said. “As such, no one should be lecturing us about our financial assistance.”

Earlier, Greenblatt was quoted as telling EU ambassadors in Ramat Gan that settlements are not the issue preventing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

In Ramallah, the PA Foreign Ministry accused the “Zionist American” Greenblatt of endorsing the positions of the extremists in Israel.

L-R: Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman meet in Tel Aviv on August 24, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

“Greenblatt does not care about the Palestinians’ opinion,” the ministry said. “His remarks show that he does not believe that the Palestinians are party to the political process.”

Referring to the Trump administration’s peace plan, whose details have yet to be announced, the PA ministry claimed that it “bypasses” the Palestinians.

“This is a plan that was drafted by Israel and endorsed by the US administration,” the ministry charged. “We wish to remind Greenblatt that others before him who tried to shun the Palestinians and their cause failed and retreated quietly.

“If Greenblatt wants to open channels between Israel and some Arab countries, while excluding the Palestinians, we emphasize that no one in the region would dare to accept such an American plan that drops the Palestinian dimension or gives up Jerusalem,” it said. “For this reason, we believe that the plan of Greenblatt and his Zionist group is doomed to failure.”

The PA ministry also accused Greenblatt of acting as an agent for promoting extremist Israeli positions. Even some Israeli politicians and journalists were beginning to sound less radical than Greenblatt, it said.

Ahmed Majdalani, a senior PLO official, claimed that six Palestinian businessmen from the West Bank and Gaza Strip turned down an invitation to meet with Greenblatt during his last visit to the region. However, he did not mention the names of the businessmen.

Majdalani said that the Trump administration’s purported attempt to search for alternative leaders for the Palestinians was doomed to failure. Similar attempts by Israel in the 1970s and 1980s had also failed, he added.

Senior PLO official Ahmed Majdalani. (YouTube screen capture)

Top Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said that neither Greenblatt nor the US administration was authorized to impose anything on the Palestinians.

Rajoub said that the US administration’s “deal of the century” was designed to “liquidate” and “end” the Palestinian cause.

“They [the US administration] will not find a [Palestinian] puppet to fulfill their goals,” Rajoub said, asserting that the deal would never find support among Palestinians and Arabs, and was thus doomed to fail.

“Our will is free and independent and no one can control it,” he said. “We will work with the Arab countries to thwart the deal. Our effort should focus on foiling any attempt to create a Palestinian partner for the deal of the century.”

Qais Abd Al-Karim, a leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, also accused Greenblatt and the Trump administration of seeking to “liquidate” the Palestinian issue.

“What the US envoy is talking about is not a peace process,” Abd Al-Karim said. “Instead, this is an attempt to completely liquidate the Palestinian cause and destroy all the national rights of the Palestinians.”

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