US Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt discussed the Trump administration’s pending peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when he met Friday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Honored to meet today with Prime Minister @Netanyahu. We discussed the incredibly strong US-Israel relationship, regional issues and the peace effort,” Greenblatt tweeted after the meeting.
The two were joined in Jerusalem by US Ambassador David Friedman and Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer.
The Trump administration had initially spoken of releasing the plan, known as the “Deal of the Century,” during the summer but delayed its publication until after Israel’s election on September 17.
During the campaign, Netanyahu repeatedly stressed that he expected the plan to be released quickly after the election. It is likely, however, that the publication of the plan will be delayed again, given that election results do not point to a clear winner.
Neither Netanyahu nor the top vote-getter in the election, Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz, appeared to have enough support to form a government. The Jerusalem Post has learned that some US officials hold that the plan should be released only once a government is formed.
While in Israel, Greenblatt is also expected to meet with Gantz. The spokesperson for Gantz said the Blue and White leader had received a request from the US Embassy to schedule a meeting with Greenblatt during his visit in the region.
Greenblatt, along with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been one of the key architects of the plan. He has already said he plans to step down after the plan’s release.
In an opinion piece he published on CNN’s website on Friday, Greenblatt wrote, “I have spent nearly three years working with colleagues on the United States-Israel relationship, Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors, and a vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I am proud of the work we have done.”
During the time he has spent working on resolving the conflict, Greenblatt wrote that he had been, “surprised that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are willing to destroy the lives of two million Palestinians in their quest to destroy the State of Israel, and even more surprised at their belief that one day they will prevail.”
He was deeply saddened by the lives lost as a result of the conflict.
“Sad that some actually believe that a moral equivalence exists between those murdered in cold blood by terrorists and those accidentally killed in Israel’s ever-challenging need to defend itself from such attacks,” Greenblatt wrote.
He was hopeful that “the vision we created will appeal to Israelis and Palestinians enough to start down the hard road of negotiating a peace agreement, and that peace extends to the countries in the region beyond Jordan and Egypt. If the vision achieves peace, the lives of millions of people will be so much better.”
Few details of the plan have been released, but US officials have been clear that it will differ from past attempts to resolve the conflict, which promoted a two-state solution along the pre-1967 lines. During the campaign, Netanyahu spoke of his plan to annex all settlements in the West Bank, starting with 31 settlements. This would include 22 settlements in the Jordan Valley, five in the Megilot region and four in the Benjamin Region.
On Friday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov spoke of the importance of the two-state solution along the pre-1967 lines in a speech he delivered to the UN Security Council in New York.
“It is hard to tolerate the steady deterioration of the already difficult status quo. It reflects the collective failure of leaders, politicians and the international community to deliver on the vision that peace between the State of Israel and the state of Palestine can be achieved through peaceful negotiations with support from the international community, based on 1967 lines, international law, relevant UN resolutions and prior agreements,” Mladenov said.
“There is no other viable solution to end the conflict. Those who continue to support a two-state outcome must acknowledge that derailing that prospect means that Palestinians and Israelis are facing a grim future of perpetual occupation, endless violence and threats to regional stability,” he added.