Greenblatt this week twice urged PA to enter talks

Trump said to mull unveiling peace plan even if Abbas maintains boycott

Channel 10 report quotes US official as saying ‘all the relevant countries’ that back a deal ‘are still waiting for our plan’

Trump administration peace envoy Jason Greenblatt speaks at the INSS conference, January 30, 2018 (INSS screenshot)
Trump administration peace envoy Jason Greenblatt speaks at the INSS conference, January 30, 2018 (INSS screenshot)

The Trump administration may publicly unveil its Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal even if the Palestinian Authority maintains its refusal to resume talks brokered by the US, an Israeli TV report said Thursday.

The Channel 10 news report quoted senior officials in the US administration as saying that “all the relevant countries that support a peace agreement are still waiting for our plan. They want to work with us and they understand that there is no substitute for the United States as mediator.”

The report, which said a final decision had yet to be made by the administration on when or whether to present its proposal, came after  Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s top Middle East peace negotiator, said in two speeches this week that efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace were still underway and urged the Palestinians to return to the table.

The unnamed US officials said one reason for publicizing the plan would be so that the international community would see its provisions.

Trump said in Davos, Switzerland, last week, that the US has “a proposal for peace. It’s a great proposal for the Palestinians. I think it’s a very good proposal for Israel.”

He added, “I hope the Palestinians want to make peace. And if they do, everybody’s going to be very happy in the end.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is boycotting the Trump administration following its recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Appealing to other parties, Abbas is set to fly to Russia later this month for talks with President Vladimir Putin, and will also travel to New York to address the UN Security Council.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on April 13, 2015. (Photo credit: AFP/ POOL / SERGEI ILNITSKY)

Greenblatt delivered his appeals once at a key policy conference in Israel and then at a special meeting of a funding committee for the Palestinians.

“The United States is as committed as ever to reaching an agreement that guarantees a peaceful prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians, that’s why this administration continues to work on developing a peace plan that can bring both parties to the table,” Greenblatt said in an address Tuesday to the annual conference of Israel’s Institute for National Strategic Studies. The conference draws security officials from Israel, the Palestinian areas, the United States and other countries.

“It is easy to walk away from the table,” he said, “but that helps no one and reduces or perhaps even eliminates the chances of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement, and that would be terrible for the Palestinian people.”

Trump last week suggested he might abandon his bid to advance peace should the Palestinians not return to talks.

The Palestinians have snubbed the Trump administration’s bid to restart the peace talks since December 6, when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Greenblatt said the recognition of Jerusalem was not an attempt to determine a final-status outcome, as the Palestinians have charged.

“When President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he was not rewriting history, he was recognizing a historic reality,” he said. “The president was absolutely clear that the United States has not prejudged any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.”

While Trump did say on December 6 that the decision was not meant to affect the outcome of peace talks, he has since said twice that his declaration had taken Jerusalem, whose eastern sectors the Palestinians claim as their future capital, “off the table.”

Greenblatt also made the appeal at a meeting in Brussels of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, a grouping of countries and entities committed to advancing the peace process.

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 25, 2018 (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Greenblatt rejected claims that the Trump administration was frustrating development because of Trump’s threat to cut funding to the Palestinians over their lack of cooperation in peace talks.

“The United States has been the single largest donor to the Palestinians in history,” he said. “As such, no one should be lecturing us about our financial assistance.”

Among those present at the Brussels meeting was the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, marking the first time a Palestinian official has worked with US officials since Trump’s Jerusalem announcement. Greenblatt thanked Hamdallah for attending, although it did not constitute a reentry of the Palestinians into consultations about a peace plan.

“I am particularly pleased to see you Prime Minister Hamdallah – I hope as a sign of the Palestinian Authority’s continued commitment to the process which we have undertaken together,” he said.

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