Trump’s top peace envoy heads to Israel for meeting with Quartet

Jason Greenblatt will meet with envoys to ‘exchange information and continue our engagement on advancing peace,’ White House official says

US President Donald Trump's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2017. (FLASH90)
US President Donald Trump's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2017. (FLASH90)

WASHINGTON — Amid continued diplomatic fallout from US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and a belligerent, fiery speech from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denouncing his administration’s peace efforts, Trump’s top peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, will arrive in the region Wednesday to meet with envoys from the Middle East Quartet to advance an Israeli-Palestinian accord.

“Jason will be attending a regular meeting of the Quartet Envoys to exchange information and continue our engagement on advancing peace,” a White House official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

Greenblatt, who will arrive in Israel on January 17, will likely stay until US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit, which is scheduled for January 22-23.

The so-called Quartet consists of representatives from the US, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union. It was established in Madrid in 2002 to try and resolve the decades-old dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.

The upcoming meeting comes as Palestinians still fume over Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

On Sunday night, Abbas gave a pugnacious speech before members of the PLO leadership in Ramallah, in which he denied any historic Jewish ties to the region and denounced the US president’s Jerusalem recognition as “the slap of the century,” language allusive to Trump’s own promise of delivering Israeli-Palestinian peace, which he has said would be the “deal of the century.”

Since the December 6 announcement, Abbas and other senior Palestinian leaders have also refused to meet with US officials. Greenblatt is not expected to meet with PA officials this week.

The Palestinian’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has said the PA will refuse any US-sponsored peace talks until Trump reverses his recognition of Jerusalem.

Along with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, Greenblatt, a former attorney with the Trump Organization, has been leading his peace team’s push to renew negotiations between the sides.

Despite the rhetoric that Palestinian and other Arab leaders have used since Trump’s move last month, the White House insists it is still pushing ahead with presenting a peace plan in the future.

“The president remains as committed to peace as ever,” one official said last month.

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