Trump envoy to visit Israel next week for talks on peace plan, Gaza
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Trump envoy to visit Israel next week for talks on peace plan, Gaza

White House says Jason Greenlatt’s trip part of the Trump administration’s ‘commitment to productive engagement’

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

US President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt addresses the American Jewish Committee's Women’s Leadership Board Spring Luncheon in New York on April 24, 2018. (Courtesy / Ellen Dubin Photography)
US President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt addresses the American Jewish Committee's Women’s Leadership Board Spring Luncheon in New York on April 24, 2018. (Courtesy / Ellen Dubin Photography)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will travel to Israel next week to meet with officials, as the White House prepares to release its peace plan and attempts to calm the situation at the Gaza border.

“I can confirm that Special Representative Jason Greenblatt will be traveling to Israel this coming week,” a White House official told The Times of Israel on Thursday. “This trip reflects the administration’s commitment to productive engagement, as well as the value it places on understanding the situation on the ground, especially amid recent tensions.”

Greenblatt’s agenda is not yet clear, but he is likely to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though not with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Relations between Washington and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the American embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrives during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters on Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Abbas and other PA leaders have refused to meet with Trump officials ever since, including US Vice President Mike Pence when he visited the region earlier this year.

The White House official did not say whether Greenblatt plans to meet with any other Palestinian representatives during his trip. Axios quoted Israeli officials as saying the former Trump Organization lawyer will meet with Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials.

The news website also said that Israeli officials plan to discuss not only the Trump team’s peace plan, but recent violence in the Gaza strip, including UN- and Egypt-backed attempts to stabilize relations between Israel and Hamas.

Trump said last month that he hoped to unveil his Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal before January. He also — for the first time since taking office — said he favored a two-state outcome to the conflict.

US President Donald Trump (right) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2018, at UN Headquarters. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“I like the two-state solution,” he told reporters at a press gaggle with Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. “That’s what I think works best. I don’t even have to speak to anybody, that’s my feeling.”

Hours later, he backtracked, saying that he was okay with any resolution to the decades-long dispute if both parties agreed to it. “Bottom line: If the Israelis and Palestinians want one state, that’s okay with me,”  he said. “If they want two states, that’s okay with me. I’m happy if they’re happy.”

Members of the president’s team tasked with negotiating a deal — Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Greenblatt — have said they are working on finalizing the proposal but have stopped short of saying when exactly they plan to make its contents public.

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