Greenblatt to ‘Post’: Peace team made the right decisions

It was a family Shabbat dinner at his home in New Jersey when he raised the issue of leaving the administration with his wife and children.

September 12, 2019 08:40
3 minute read.
Greenblatt to ‘Post’: Peace team made the right decisions

US special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt (pictured here at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York in April) is to step down in the next few weeks. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

WASHINGTON – Jason Greenblatt, the resigning US special envoy to the Middle East, says he is standing behind the decisions of the peace team and wouldn’t change any of the administration’s significant decisions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the first interview in his office at the White House since he announced his intention to resign, he told The Jerusalem Post that “the decisions we made were appropriate for what we are trying to accomplish. They were correct for the United States and its interest.”

While he added that it could take him weeks to go through all the decisions that the team made during his tenure, he has no doubts about the significant ones. “Certainly on the major decisions – Jerusalem, the embassy, UNRWA, the PLO office – I firmly believe were the correct decisions. And I think if we didn’t make those decisions, not only would it be not closer to peace, but in fact it would have brought us no closer to peace.”

It was a family Shabbat dinner at his home in New Jersey when he raised the issue of leaving the administration with his wife and children.

“It started over many discussions over Shabbat, but it lasted way into the Sunday night barbecue,” he told the Post.

Asked why he wouldn’t stay to try to promote direct negotiations between the sides once the plan is revealed, he told the Post that it could take a long period of time.

“Originally, I planned to stay approximately two years,” he added. “I’ve stayed closer to three years now. I do have an obligation to be a father and a husband. I’ve neglected my family in many ways, and I think the time has come for me to start transitioning out so I could go back to being a father and a husband.”

Some of his kids, he said, told him to keep his work on the peace team. “My family has been exceptional. They all have that attitude, which is that I should stay, but I know on their faces that it’s hard. It’s hard on Sunday; it’s hard on Friday. They’ve been incredibly supportive. I have to say that after last Thursday, after the announcement, we all felt a sense of tremendous relief, knowing that at some point over the coming period – we don’t know if it’s weeks to months, we’ll see – knowing that I’m finally going to be back home.”
Some pundits estimated that the real reason for Greenblatt’s resignation is the low chances to promote the “Deal of the Century” after the plan would be revealed, but the special envoy rejects this claim.

“It’s just people who really have no idea what they’re talking about,” he told the Post. “If that was true, I should have left three months ago, six months ago, nine months ago. I still very much believe we are putting forth something that makes sense. I know that I’m leaving it in good hands, but I think if that were true, I wouldn’t have wasted my time over two-and-a-half years.”

He still believes that despite the Palestinian refusal to engage with the US peace team, the plan can still succeed.

“I think that we have crafted something that’s different than the past but gives both sides a tremendous hope for the future,”

Greenblatt said. “So I think that both sides study it and stay away from the political talk, and understand that we can only deliver a realistic plan, one that is actually implementable, not one that just talks in lofty ideals. I think there is a chance that something good could come out of it.”

Read the full story on Friday.

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