Trump official: Unhelpful to use ‘two-state solution’ terminology in peace talks

Trump official: Unhelpful to use ‘two-state solution’ terminology in peace talks

Jason Greenblatt said to warn both Israelis and Palestinians against rejecting ‘deal of the century’

Jason Greenblatt attends the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards gala at Carnegie Hall in New York, March 28, 2019. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Jason Greenblatt attends the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards gala at Carnegie Hall in New York, March 28, 2019. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

A senior official in the White House rejected the use of the term “two-state solution,” Sky News Arabic, a UAE-based TV station, reported on Friday.

There was no reason to use the term because each side understood it differently, the official, who was not named, told Sky News Arabic.

Meanwhile, US Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt warned on Friday both Israel and the Palestinians against rejecting US President Donald Trump’s upcoming peace plan.

“If the two sides do not respond positively [to the plan], they will have squandered an important opportunity, especially so for the Palestinians,” Greenblatt told Sky News Arabic. (An English-language transcript of the comments was not made available.)

Greenblatt said both sides needed to be prepared for direct negotiations as each would have to make concessions, and there would be elements of the deal that each side would be satisfied with, and parts each would dislike.

“We will propose a peace plan and the Israeli and Palestinian sides will have to be prepared for negotiations with respect to it,” he stated.

Greenblatt also issued a special warning to the Palestinians, noting they had already spoken out against the plan before seeing it, while suggesting that it could have a significant and positive impact on their future.

On Wednesday, on his Twitter feed, Greenblatt had chided the new Palestinian Authority prime minister after the latter asserted that the “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.

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)

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.”

Earlier Friday, Greenblatt denied rumors that the plan called for the Palestinians to be given part of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“Hearing reports our plan includes the concept that we will give a portion of Sinai (which is Egypt’s) to Gaza. False!” he wrote on Twitter.

With the Trump team keeping the details of the plan close to their chests (and with one report indicating that even Trump has not seen the entire plan) rumors of its content have swirled, particularly on social media.

Reports had circulated in recent days that under the deal, Egypt would give up a chunk of the northern Sinai that lies next to the Gaza Strip for the creation of something called the “New State.”

Screen capture from a video purporting to show a plan to to give the Palestinian part of the Sinai for a future state. US envoy Jason Greenblatt denies this is part of the Trump peace plan, April 19, 2019. (Screen capture/Twitter)

A video detailing the plan, purportedly from the Trump team, is apparently from an independent Israeli think tank called New State Solution.

On Wednesday Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said the plan will not be unveiled until June at the earliest.

Kushner told some 100 foreign diplomats the 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.

He urged them to keep an “open mind,” according to a source cited by the Reuters news service.

Although little is known about the long-awaited plan, 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 were already not cooperating with Trump’s Middle East team 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.

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