U.S. Envoy for Middle East negotiations Jason Greenblatt on a visit in Israel.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
US special envoy Jason Greenblatt hinted at a normalized view of West Bank settlements, when he referred to them as “neighborhoods and cities,” during a speech he gave late Thursday night at the ‘Israel Hayom’ forum in Jerusalem.
Greenblatt arrived in Israel from Jordan, after attending the US-led economic workshop in Bahrain to discuss a $50 billion financial revival plan for the Palestinians.
The plan, which was the first publication of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, made no mention of any political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Speculation had been high as to whether it would include or exclude West Bank settlements located in Area C, or whether the US would support Israeli sovereignty over those settlements in advance of a peace deal.
Supporters of the application of Israeli sovereignty often prefer not to use the word settlements to describe those Judea and Samaria communities. They aim to give those communities the appearance of normalized areas of the country, even though they are located in territory outside of Israeli sovereignty that is under Israeli military and civilian rule.
At the forum, Greenblatt spoke of the importance of the gathering and his disappointment that the Palestinian Authority is boycotting the Trump administration’s peace process.
The Trump administration is offering the Palestinians a prosperous future with the potential for private sector driven growth, Greenblatt said. The people who attended the workshop didn’t shy away from the problem, nor did they give up after hearing “the same broken record of negativity of why progress can’t be made,” he said.
The Palestinian Authority has insisted that any plan must be based on a two-state solution around the pre-1967 lines, based on past UN resolutions and internationally recognized parameters.
Greenblatt said that holding on to such past understandings was not helpful to the peace process.
“International law, UN resolutions and internationally recognized parameters are not always clear cut,” he said. “They are interpreted differently in good faith by different parties and they do not provide an executable solution to this conflict.” To resolve the conflict, people have to stop “pretending that settlements, or what I like to call neighborhoods and cities, are the reason for the lack of peace,” he said.
The PA’s policy of providing monthly payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families also makes it difficult to achieve peace, he said. Other countries, aside from US and Israel, have to “call out the PA’s vile pay-to-slay policy and push the PA to end this abhorrent practice,” Greenblatt said.
“Let us take the prayers from the synagogue in Bahrain and see if we can make progress for Israel and its neighbors,” he said.
Earlier in the day, he issued a tweet to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after understanding that they had both been at the Allenby Bridge at the same time.
“Heading from Jordan to Israel over the Allenby Bridge,” he wrote. “Just heard President Abbas is crossing in the opposite direction. If we had been able to coordinate, perhaps we could have had coffee on the bridge. Would have been a quiet, polite way to break the impasse. Perhaps next time?”
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