Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s envoy to the Middle East peace process lashed out on Monday at Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, accusing him of lacking “vision” in his approach to Israel.
Jason Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations, was responding to a tough interview of Erekat conducted by Deutsche Welle’s Tim Sebastian. Throughout the interview, taped before a live audience, the moderator repeatedly challenges Erekat to detail his accomplishments for his people.
The interview “exposes many of the deep problems the Palestinians face — not least of which is leadership with no vision for improving their lives,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter. “Tough, fair questions, no real answers.”
In the interview, Sebastian pressed Erekat on the PA’s decision to cut off contact with the Trump administration one year ago; its failure to heal factional divisions and to hold elections; and its record of human rights abuses.
“I have an overloaded wagon of complexities,” Erekat said. “I’m doing my best. I’m under occupation.”
The PA diplomat offered no indication that Ramallah will reconsider engagement with the White House once its peace plan is released, dismissing Trump’s diplomatic team as a group of “real estate agents” attempting to bully the Palestinians into submission.
But when Erekat recounted the PA decision to cease communications with the administration, citing Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December, Sebastian noted to him that Trump did not preclude the city could also host a future Palestinian capital, as well.
Erekat said he was engaging with European and Russian diplomats on potential peace efforts, but did not deny Sebastian’s assertion that peace could only be achieved through the Americans.
The Trump team is expected to release its plan for a comprehensive peace agreement early next year.