Trump envoy: PA dismissal of peace plan hurts ordinary Palestinians
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Trump envoy: PA dismissal of peace plan hurts ordinary Palestinians

Ahead of proposal’s expected unveiling next month, Jason Greenblatt urges Ramallah not to ‘continue on the road of rejection’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations, in Ramallah on March 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations, in Ramallah on March 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

The Trump administration’s top peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, blasted Palestinian leaders for preemptively rejecting Washington’s peace proposal without knowing what it contained.

“It’s terribly frustrating for ordinary Palestinians,” Greenblatt told Fox News in an interview published Saturday.

“I meet with them frequently, and this is the message they tell me,” he said. “They understand they may not like aspects of the plan but are upset that their leaders are saying they won’t even take a look at it. I feel terrible for the Palestinian people.”

Greenblatt said he was “hopeful for the sake of the Palestinian people that they get a chance to see it.”

Palestinian Authority leaders cut ties with the Trump administration and said the US could no longer serve as a peace mediator between Palestinians and Israelis after President Donald Trump recognized an unspecified portion of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and officially moved the US embassy to the city in May 2018.

View of the new site of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, May 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The peace plan has been the subject of a great deal of speculation and criticism over the past year, with some critics saying it amounted to an Israel-focused dismissal of Palestinian claims and focused on economic benefits to Palestinians.

In the Fox News interview, Greenblatt insisted that it would not endanger Israel.

“One thing we won’t do, the Trump administration won’t compromise on Israel’s security,” he said.

But, he added, the plan also addressed Palestinian political demands.

It was “false to say that it’s only an economic plan. It’s both political and economic. Once everyone has read and given their thoughts on it, there is still a long way to go before a final signing agreement, and that will be up to the parties themselves to negotiate,” Greenblatt said.

The plan would be presented “within weeks,” he said, likely shortly after the festival of Shavuot in mid-June.

The Fox News interview followed Greenblatt’s Thursday comments to the UN Security Council, in which he criticized past peace efforts as “repeating the same tired talking points.”

“The sad truth is that saying the same things, repeating the same tired talking points, but not identifying a realistic way forward, has not and will not lead to peace — Ever!” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd from right) meets at his Jerusalem office with the ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (right); White House adviser Jared Kushner (center); US Ambassador David Friedman (second left); and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, on June 22, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The Trump administration’s plan “deals with all the core issues. We have developed solutions for each point. So whether you are a teenager or 100 years old you will see what the consequences are for each point, the good and the bad, and have a real sense of what peace could look like,” he told the Security Council.

Asked by Fox about the Palestinian leadership’s rejection of the plan, he said, “It is their choice to continue on the road of rejection at the expense of everyday Palestinians. If they fail to engage constructively and professionally to see if a deal can be reached then shame on them.”

Two years in the making, the plan, spearheaded by Greenblatt, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and the US envoy to Israel David Friedman, has been dubbed by the president the “deal of the century.”

It faces skepticism among Palestinians who view Trump as slanted to the Israeli side, and by right-wing Israeli political parties who have warned that they won’t allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to carry out any territorial withdrawals the plan might call for.

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