Trump envoy pans new Palestinian prime minister for prejudging peace plan

Trump envoy pans new Palestinian prime minister for prejudging peace plan

Responding to Jason Greenblatt’s criticism, Mohammad Shtayyeh says any initiative must call for ending occupation and establishing sovereign Palestinian state

Jason Greenblatt, left, meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (Government Press Office)
Jason Greenblatt, left, meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (Government Press Office)

US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process Jason Greenblatt chided the new Palestinian Authority prime minister on Wednesday after the latter asserted that the yet-to-be announced American “deal of the century” will be “born dead.”

“Why does the new PA Prime Minister hope for our plan to be ‘born dead’ & for peace to fail? By working with us, perhaps something wonderful can happen for Palestinians. We’ve repeatedly said this won’t just be an economic plan,” Greenblatt tweeted, referencing growing speculation that the initiative will be short on political incentives for the Palestinians.

“PM (Mohammad) Shtayyeh, starting a new job by condemning a plan you haven’t seen is unfair to Palestinians. You have an obligation to first look at an opportunity before you dismiss it. The PA can continue to push us away, but that will do nothing to improve the lives of the Palestinians,” Greenblatt added.

On Thursday, Shtayyeh responded directly to Greenblatt’s Twitter thread, asserting that “any political initiative that does not call for ending Israeli occupation and establishing an independent and sovereign Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital on the borders of 1967 with settling the refugees cause is not acceptable to the Palestinians.”

The Twitter feud came hours after Greenblatt’s fellow peace team member and Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner told some 100 foreign diplomats that the administration’s plan will be rolled out after the new Israeli government is sworn in and following the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends June 5.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh talks during an interview with The Associated Press, at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Little is known about the long-awaited plan, though recent reports in the Washington Post and Guardian suggested it would not include full Palestinian statehood.

That is a likely deal-breaker for Palestinians, who have already accused Trump’s Middle East team of being biased in favor of the Jewish state following the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and moving of the US embassy there in May 2018.

Since taking office, Trump has also slashed hundreds of millions of dollars of aid for Palestinians, including all of its support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and nearly $200 million earmarked for humanitarian programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

“There are no partners in Palestine for Trump. There are no Arab partners for Trump and there are no European partners for Trump,” Shtayyeh said during a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with The Associated Press.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said he did not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election talk of extending Israeli sovereignty to all West Bank settlements would hurt the Trump administration’s long-gestating peace plan. His comments appeared to indicate that the US plan does not even provide for Palestinian control of substantive contiguous territory in the West Bank.

While Netanyahu’s coalition partners in the Union of Right-Wing Party campaigned in the recent election on opposing Trump’s plan outright, similar to the Palestinian leadership, the premier himself has said he will keep an open mind on the initiative and only judge it after having received it.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon told reporters Wednesday that Netanyahu would not move to follow up on his election pledge to annex West Bank settlements before the US peace plan is released.

“I don’t think that we will take any action before the plan is published,” Danon said. “We will wait. We will see the plan. We will engage and I don’t know where it will lead us.”

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