Ambassador Friedman slams NY Times Martin Luther King op-ed

Trump envoy, top PLO official feud on Twitter over US peace plan

Greenblatt argues with Hanan Ashrawi over administration’s credibility in negotiations, charges Palestinian leadership with failure to engage in talks

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi speaks at a press conference in Ramallah on February 24, 2015. (WAFA/File)
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi speaks at a press conference in Ramallah on February 24, 2015. (WAFA/File)

Jason Greenblatt, the US envoy to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and prominent Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi clashed over the Trump administration’s peace efforts on Twitter on Sunday.

Ashrawi, a Christian and a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, fired the first salvo on Thursday while discussing an Israeli TV report on Trump’s plan.

Ashrawi wrote on Twitter that she was skeptical of leaks to the Israeli press, noted that Greenblatt had denied the report, then added, “The US administration has zero credibility.”

Greenblatt wrote a direct response to Ashrawi on Sunday, saying, “you may dislike our policies & decisions, but to say we have ‘zero credibility’ is simply not factual. @POTUS has kept his commitments, such as recognizing #Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel & moving our Embassy to #Jerusalem.”

The US envoy went on to argue that the administration has been committed to working toward peace for Israelis and Palestinians, while the Palestinian leadership has refused to negotiate, writing, “The ball is in your court. Time to be credible leaders.”

Ashrawi wrote back, saying, “‘Zero credibility’ is my polite way of saying that you have unilaterally destroyed the chances of peace by taking illegal unilateral measures to prejudice/predetermine the outcome of the basic requirements of peace.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, at Abbas’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (WAFA)

She castigated the US administration for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, which she called illegal, defunding the Palestinian Authority, targeting UNRWA and generally siding with Israel over the Palestinian leadership.

“We have engaged fully since 1991 & have negotiated in every possible way until our own credibility was undermined by constant Israeli violations & non-compliance,” Ashrawi wrote.

Greenblatt wrote back several hours later, saying that Israel and the Palestinians were already far from an agreement when the administration took office, and that peace negotiations had so far failed for many reasons, including the schism in Palestinian leadership between Fatah and Hamas.

He closed by telling Ashrawi, “Keep trying to see what might be possible or just keep blaming others & ignoring the truth. I want to keep trying. What about you?”

Also on Sunday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman took to Twitter to defend Israeli policy against a New York Times op-ed by columnist Michelle Alexander, who likened opposition to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to Dr. Martin Luther King’s unpopular early opposition to the Vietnam War. She also compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to Apartheid in South Africa and discriminatory Jim Crow laws in the United States.

King was conflicted on Israel during his lifetime, but if he were alive today, he would be critical of the Jewish state, Alexander suggested.

Friedman responded to the op-ed, writing “If MLK were alive today I think he would be very proud of his robust support for the State of Israel. An Arab in the ME who is gay, a woman, a Christian, or seeking education & self-improvement can’t do better than living in (Israel).”

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