US envoy Greenblatt discusses Israeli-Palestinian peace plan with senators
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US envoy Greenblatt discusses Israeli-Palestinian peace plan with senators

Negotiator does not provide new details of the plan, which Trump has promised to unveil within the next four months

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd from right) meets at his Jerusalem office with the ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (right); White House adviser Jared Kushner (center); US Ambassador David Friedman (second left); and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, on June 22, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd from right) meets at his Jerusalem office with the ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (right); White House adviser Jared Kushner (center); US Ambassador David Friedman (second left); and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, on June 22, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said early Friday that he had discussed the administration’s long-awaited peace plan with a number of senators from both sides of the aisle.

In a tweet, Greenblatt said it “was a pleasure” for him and the president’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner to meet with senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Bob Corker of Tennessee, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Jim Risch of Idaho, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Chris Coons of Delaware, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Robert Menendez of New Jersay, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Although the administration has been touting its plan for months, details of it have been scarce, and the Palestinians, who have long boycotted the Trump administration, have vowed not to cooperate with US efforts to implement it once it is announced.

Trump made headlines last week when he declared for the first time his support for a two-state solution to the conflict, though he did not give details of his vision for Palestinian statehood.

Following a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Trump told reporters that he believes that two states “works best.” He had previously been vague on the topic, suggesting that he would support whatever the parties might agree to, including a one-state solution that might see the Palestinian territories become part of Israel.

Asked whether he too preferred such a resolution, Netanyahu dodged.

“I’ve discovered that if you use labels you’re not going to get very far because different people mean different things when they say ‘states,'” he said. “So rather than talk about labels, I’d like to talk about substance.”

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)

Netanyahu added that he would like to see Palestinians “have all the power to govern themselves but none of the powers to threaten us.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has shunned the administration’s envoys — including Greenblatt and Kushner — since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital late last year, rejected the US president’s peace plan in his address to the General Assembly last week.

Abbas said Trump’s policies toward the Palestinians, which have been seen as embracing many Israeli policy points, were an “assault on international law,” and rejected Washington as a mediator in the peace talks.

“This administration has reneged on all previous US commitments, undermined the two-state solution, and revealed its false claims of concern about the humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people,” he charged.

“We welcomed Trump when he was elected and praised his announcement of [a] peace plan, but were shocked by his actions concerning the process,” Abbas said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 27, 2018. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP)

Abbas’s speech came amid a deepening rift between Ramallah and Washington due to the PA’s refusal to engage with American officials. Relations plummeted further in recent weeks after Washington slashed all its funding to the UN agency assisting Palestinians, triggering a budget panic; shuttered the Palestinian mission in Washington; and withdrew its financial support from coexistence programs.

Last week, Greenblatt defended the administration’s drastic funding cuts, arguing that billions given to their cause over decades had failed to significantly advance the cause of peace.

Rather, he said in a speech to a conference of international donors, it was time to “realistically evaluate what works and what does not,” and to embark on “a new, sustainable path.” While he declined to provide any details of the peace proposal he and other White House officials have been working on for months, he asked members of the international community to study it carefully and be open to new ideas.

Trump, who has called an Israeli-Palestinian accord the “ultimate deal,” said during his meeting with Netanyahu that the peace plan would be rolled out within the next four months.

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