WASHINGTON — One of US President Donald Trump’s envoys charged with spearheading new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks decried the murder of an Israeli border guard in a terror attack outside Jerusalem’s Old City last Friday.
Staff Sgt. Hadas Malka, 23, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian assailant. Four others were injured in the coordinated attack by three West Bank Palestinians, all whom were killed.
“She was murdered by terrorists,” Jason Greenblatt wrote on Twitter Monday. “This violence is intolerable!”
Greenblatt’s tweet also included a screen shot of a statement the White House released that said he visited the Malka family earlier in the day to sit shiva with them, a ritual period of Jewish morning for the deceased.
The statement said that Malka was “murdered by terrorists in an attack near Damascus Gate” and that Greenblatt “offered condolences on behalf of the Trump administration.”
“Incidents such as this underscore why it is vital to realize President Trump’s vision of a Middle East free from the threats of terrorism and extremism,” it added.
Malka, a resident of Moshav Givat Ezer in central Israel, was laid to rest early Sunday morning in the southern city of Ashdod. She left behind her parents and five siblings.
The French government also denounced on Monday the terrorist attack that took Malka’s life.
“France utterly condemns the heinous attack in Jerusalem on Friday evening which killed one person,” a statement said. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families.”
Greenblatt’s visit and statement came after he arrived in Jerusalem on Monday for meetings to try and advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. On Wednesday, he will be joined by top Trump adviser, Jared Kushner.
Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, will meet with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this week to discuss “their priorities and potential next steps,” a senior White House official told The Times of Israel.
Kushner and Greenblatt have been tasked by Trump with relaunching peace negotiations, which the administration has said is a major priority for them. Trump, for his part, has often referred to Israeli-Palestinian peace as the “ultimate deal.”
Since Trump took office and made clear his intention to push for an accord, Republicans on Capitol Hill — and some Democrats, too — have been pressing him to take a hard stance on the Palestinian Authority’s practice of issuing social welfare payments of the families of Palestinians jailed for attacking or killing Israelis.
In February, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) introduced the Taylor Force Act, which would cut US funding to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to provide monetary support to the families of those who commit acts of terror against Israelis and others.
There has been an intense lobbying effort on behalf of that legislation from a number of pro-Israel and Jewish organizations since.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told lawmakers last week there was an ongoing “active discussion” between the US and Palestinian Authority on the matter and that Trump only has “a certain window of patience” for the policy to be changed.
“At some point,” the top US diplomat said during a House hearing, “he’s going to become disinterested. And when we become disinterested, that will certainly alter our level of support.”