Shunned by Palestinians, Trump envoy tells Netanyahu he’s still working on peace
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Shunned by Palestinians, Trump envoy tells Netanyahu he’s still working on peace

Jason Greenblatt joined by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for talks said to focus on 'peace efforts which will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians'

US President Donald Trump's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchange greetings at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 12, 2017. (Haim Tzach/GPO)
US President Donald Trump's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchange greetings at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 12, 2017. (Haim Tzach/GPO)

US President Donald Trump’s chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as part of the administration’s efforts to advance peace, the American official said.

The meeting took place as tensions with the international community and the Palestinians remained high in the wake of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Palestinians said the move disqualified the United States from its historic role as peace broker with the Israelis.

Greenblatt was accompanied by US ambassador to Israel David Friedman in what the peace negotiator called in a Tweet “a check-in as the Administration continues with its peace efforts which will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Officials from Netanyahu’s office offered no further information on the meeting.

On Tuesday, Greenblatt met with the European Union’s special representative for the Middle East, Fernando Gentilini, as well as with Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai, head of the COGAT defence ministry unit responsible for activities in the Palestinian territories, the US envoy said on Twitter.

Greenblatt is a key member of a small team appointed by Trump who have been holding meetings in the region for months as part of efforts to relaunch the moribund diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Greenblatt’s visit to Israel was meant to precede that of Vice President Mike Pence, who was due to arrive on Wednesday but postponed the trip to January citing a need to attend a crucial Senate vote in Washington.

Breaking with decades of US policy, Trump said on December 6 that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And, in comments that further angered the Palestinians, a White House official said Friday that the US could not “envision any situation” under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel.

The moves were welcomed by Israel but have stirred widespread condemnation and sparked angry protests across Arab and Muslim countries, as well as deadly clashes in the West Bank and Gaza. Trump stressed that the city’s borders should be agreed upon between the sides under a peace deal, and that access to holy sites must not be impeded.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinian officials would not meet US political officials, and called on China and Russia to take a greater role in creating a peace process instead.

An aide to Abbas told The Times of Israel this week that the PA president would not meet with Kushner or any other member of the Trump peace team, in an open-ended boycott. Majdi al-Khalidi said that Greenblatt did not request a meeting with the Palestinians, with whom he has met on numerous occasions in the past. Greenblatt “knows that no meeting will happen, even if he asks,” said Khalidi.

Abbas himself was meanwhile received in Saudi Arabia by King Salman on Wednesday, where the monarch pledged his country’s support for East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

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