US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt speaks at the 8th annual Jerusalem Post conference, New York.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
NEW YORK – Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York that he agrees with the comments of Ambassador David Friedman, who said last week that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank.
“I support his comment,” Greenblatt said. “I will let David’s comment stand for itself.”
He discussed the timeline to roll out the political component of the peace plan, saying that it might be postponed until a new government in Israel is formed, around November 6. He added that after the late delay in rolling out the plan due to Israel’s April election, the Trump administration would not lay out in advance a specific timeline.
“Now we are focusing on [the] Bahrain [workshop],” he added.
US special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt speaks at the 8th annual Jerusalem Post Conference, New York
Asked by The Jerusalem Post’s editor-in-chief Yaakov Katz if releasing a plan during an election year is possible, Greenblatt said that the president “can do a lot of things [at the same time]. We don’t think that elections campaign could stop the progress.” He added that Trump “is absolutely involved” in the process.
He addressed the upcoming economic workshop in Bahrain, saying that: “Saeb Erekat and others are distorting our message. They’re saying essentially that the Bahrain conference is about buying the Palestinians off. Absolutely not true.
“The Bahrain summit is aimed to show what could happen to the Palestinian economy if there’s a peace agreement,” he continued. “We understand completely that there is no economic vision that’ll work without a peace agreement. But we also want to make the point that there will be no peace agreement that works without true economic vision. We’re trying to break the cycle of aid and dependency and create an economy. They work hand in hand.”
He refused to share specific details from the plan and explained that: “We hold something very delicate in our hands. If we keep a tight lid on it, we increase chances of success.”
Greenblatt addressed the disengagement between the Trump administration and the Palestinians, explaining that there are two kinds of Palestinians. The first, he said, is the Palestinian leadership, “which we engaged with throughout 2017 – and we pretty much went as far as we were able to go with them by the time of the Jerusalem announcement.
“I think that the Palestinian leadership’s negotiating style is such that they explain what they want and they’re unwilling to engage beyond that,” he added. “And that doesn’t mean they’re not going to compromise, but they have a certain style of negotiation. So if anybody says we did not engage with the Palestinian Authority – we did for a year. We understand all of their wishes, their desires and their methods.”
He added that for the past three years, he and Jared Kushner have had many conversations with Palestinians – “who, I don’t want to pretend for a second, do not desire many of the things their leadership wants,” he said. “They don’t come to my office and thank me for the Jerusalem announcement, obviously. They explain what they’re looking for in terms of the state, in terms of other desires – but they’re grateful that the president is focused on this. They want a better future.
“They’re frustrated terribly with their leadership,” Greenblatt continued. “The problem is when they leave my office, they say, ‘please don’t tweet that I was there.’ And that’s unfortunate. But I respect that.”
Greenblatt stressed that the US does not seek to interfere in the Palestinian political process.
“We are not looking for a regime change, and we understand that there’s leadership there that gets to make decisions,” he said. “Whether there should be a new election or not, I’ll stay out of the politics of the Palestinian Authority – but there’s no question that the people deserve to see what’s in the plan and decide for themselves whether it’s for them, whether they want to do this or don’t want to do this. The same is true of the Israeli public.”
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>