US peace envoy Greenblatt said set to leave post at end of October

Architect of Trump peace plan had planned to stay on until its unveiling, but amid political deadlock in Israel appears to confirm early departure

US Middle East Peace Envoy Jason Greenblatt at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards gala at Carnegie Hall, in New York, on March 28, 2019. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
US Middle East Peace Envoy Jason Greenblatt at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards gala at Carnegie Hall, in New York, on March 28, 2019. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

US Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who last month announced his resignation from the Trump administration, appeared to confirm late Saturday he would be stepping down at the end of October and would not stay on until the long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan is released.

The White House said on September 5 that Greenblatt would be stepping down and moving to the private sector after the release of the administration’s program, which at the time was expected to happen soon after the Israeli Knesset elections on September 17. However, after the vote outcome was inconclusive, the plan’s unveiling was postponed until a government was formed in Israel. That is expected to still take at least several weeks due to stalled coalition negotiations — and could end up not happening at all, triggering another election, the third this year.

In a tweet Saturday, Greenblatt shared a report that said that since the political standoff in Israel showed no signs of an imminent resolution, he has finalized his departure date and will leave at the end of the month.

“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to work at the White House under the leadership of President Trump,” Greenblatt wrote in the tweet. “Incredibly grateful to have been part of a team that drafted a vision for peace which, at the right time, has potential to improve the lives of millions of people.”

In the piece shared by Greenblatt, the Jerusalem Post said his last day in the White House would be “around November 1,” without citing a source. Sharing the report, Greenblatt appeared to be confirming it.

(L-R) Brian Hook, US special representative for Iran, Trump adviser Jared Kushner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Israel’s US envoy Ron Dermer, at a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2019. (Ziv Sokolov/US Embassy Jerusalem)

Greenblatt, a former lawyer with the Trump Organization, has been working for the last two and a half years on the administration’s peace plan together with the US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior assistant Jared Kushner. He will be replaced by Avi Berkowitz, a senior aide to Kushner who has been present in many of the meetings and discussions related to the peace proposal.

US President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House October 7, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Initially, Greenblatt was seen by all sides as an honest broker, trying in earnest to engage with both Israelis and Palestinians. But after the US administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, officials in Ramallah shunned him, accusing him of becoming a spokesperson for the Jewish state, especially in light of the fact that he often used his Twitter account to slam the speeches and actions of Palestinians, but never criticized Israel.

Greenblatt originally intended to join the administration only for two years to “analyze the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to draft a realistic and implementable vision to help solve the conflict and to work on developing relationships between Israel and the region,” a senior administration official said last month, requesting anonymity.

Anticipating Greenblatt’s departure, the administration’s peace team has merged with the office of Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook. Hook, who is also a senior adviser to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accompanied Kushner, Greenblatt and Berkowitz during their last visit to Israel in late July.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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