American Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt on Thursday slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for failing to mention Judaism’s connection to Jerusalem in a speech this week.
Speaking at the Jerusalem Capital of Muslim Youth 2018 festival in Ramallah on Tuesday, Abbas repeatedly emphasized that Jerusalem was a city for Muslims and Christians, without mentioning any of the city’s extensive Jewish history.
“Pres. Abbas states about Jerusalem: ‘it is Arab, Muslim, and Christian.’ And makes no mention of any Jewish ties. Nothing peaceful or productive can come from statements like this,” Greenblatt said in a series of tweets.
“Lasting peace will not be achieved by denying Judaism’s thousands of years of ties to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is holy to Muslims, Christians, and Jews,” the US envoy added, recalling President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of the city as Israel’s capital.
Peace can ONLY be based on truth, and what @POTUS said is the truth: “Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.” (3/3)
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) February 8, 2018
In announcing his decision, Trump also declared he’d move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move angered the Palestinian leadership, which declared that Washington could no longer fill the decisive role in the peace process it has held for over two decades.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
In the many speeches Abbas has given about Jerusalem since Trump’s controversial decision, he has usually emphasized the Muslim and Christian connection to the holy city, while at the same time promising that should Jerusalem come under Palestinian control, it would be open to freedom of worship for all religions, including for Jews.
On Tuesday, however, he left out his oft-repeated promise to allow Jews to pray in a Palestinian-controlled Jerusalem.
“This land is an Islamic and Christian land, by all standards. Jerusalem is the eternal Palestinian capital of Muslim youths; it is also the capital of Christian youths,” said the PA president.
The Palestinian population is largely Muslim but also has a sizable Christian minority.
Greenblatt has come under fire from PA officials, who called him an “American Zionist” for his defense of the US Jerusalem policy as well as his own criticism of the PA for boycotting US efforts to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
“Greenblatt does not care about the Palestinians’ opinion,” the PA foreign ministry said on Monday. “His remarks show that he does not believe that the Palestinians are party to the political process.”
Referring to the Trump administration’s peace plan, whose details have yet to be announced, the PA ministry claimed that it bypasses the Palestinians.
“If Greenblatt wants to open channels between Israel and some Arab countries, while excluding the Palestinians, we emphasize that no one in the region would dare to accept such an American plan that drops the Palestinian dimension or gives up Jerusalem,” it said. “For this reason, we believe that the plan of Greenblatt and his Zionist group is doomed to failure.”
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.