Traveling to Israel, Trump envoy expects cold shoulder from Palestinians

It will be Jason Greenblatt's first visit to the region since the US formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

December 15, 2017 20:09
1 minute read.
US President's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt meeting with PA leader Mahmud Abbas

US President's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / PPO / THAER GHANAIM)


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WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump's special representative for international negotiations will travel to Israel this week for meetings "related to the administration's peace effort," in his first visit to the region since the US formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

A senior administration official did not say whether Jason Greenblatt expects to visit the West Bank on his latest trip to the region, only referring to travel to Israel. Palestinian Authority officials have harshly condemned the Trump administration's actions on Jerusalem in recent days and are refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence upon his arrival days later.

“The president remains as committed to peace as ever," the official said. "As we have said since the Jerusalem announcement, we anticipated reactions like the ones going on in the region but are going to remain hard at work on our peace plan."

To that end, the official continued, Greenblatt "will be traveling to Israel early in the week for meetings related to our peace effort." In addition, Greenblatt will meet with Fernando Gentilini, European Union Representative on the Quartet.
Trump Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt meets with PA President Abbas on March 14, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)

Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser tasked with leading the peace initiative, have been working on a detailed US-led plan to reboot Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for nearly a year. Sources say they plan on forging ahead with that plan – currently hundreds of pages long, full of new proposals addressing specific sticking points in the conflict – despite Palestinian proclamations that the US has discredited itself with its moves on Jerusalem.

International powers have also condemned the US move, but Britain and Saudi Arabia have both called on the White House peace team to proceed with its plan with haste.

Greenblatt will stay in Israel through Pence's visit, delayed until the end of next week due to a highly anticipated Senate vote on tax reform.

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