Netanyahu and Abbas.
(photo credit: LOIC VENANCE / AFP)
Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Monday, three days after Trump’s phone call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about ways to advance the Middle East diplomatic process.
Greenblatt is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and with Abbas in Ramallah.
In addition, he is also scheduled to meet in Jerusalem with President Reuven Rivlin, acting National Security Council head Yaakov Nagel and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories head Maj.-Gen.Yoav Mordechai.
As first reported in The Jerusalem Post
last week, Greenblatt is coming to discuss guidelines to govern Israeli construction in the settlements, an issue that was a constant source of friction with the previous administration. Netanyahu and Trump agreed during their meeting in Washington last month to establish a mechanism to work out these guidelines and Greenblatt is to head that mechanism.
Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer is currently in the country as well to take part in the discussions with Greenblatt.
The talks with Greenblatt, however, are expected to be wider than just the settlement issue and to include looking at ways to move the long-stalled diplomatic process forward.
According to the White House’s readout of the 10-minute-long conversation between Trump and Abbas on Friday, Trump “emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal.” He stressed that such a deal would have to “be negotiated directly between the two parties,” and that the US could not impose a solution. Trump also invited Abbas to the White House “in the near future.”
Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew from Teaneck, New Jersey, is a graduate of Yeshiva University and also studied for a year at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut. He has worked for Trump over the last two decades as a real estate lawyer.
In the heat of the presidential campaign last April, Trump announced that Greenblatt, and another one of his top Jewish lawyers, David Friedman, would be his top Israel advisers. Friedman is expected to be approved by the Senate as the ambassador to Israel in the coming days.
In an interview with JTA last April, Greenblatt said that he supports a two-state solution, as long at it is negotiated by the parties and not imposed from the outside.
Greenblatt was called unexpectedly by Trump to a meeting the then-presidential candidate was having with Jewish reporters last April. When Trump was asked about the settlements, he deflected the query to Greenblatt, who said, “I think the settlements should stay, but I think they have to work something out so that both sides are able to live in peace and safety.”