Greenblatt to 'Post': Palestinian refusal to attend workshop shortsighted

Leaders of the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction, who held an emergency meeting in Ramallah on Wednesday, renewed their call to Arab states to boycott the conference.

By OMRI NAHMIAS, JERUSALEM POST STAFF, TNS
June 14, 2019 02:43
4 minute read.
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, in Ramallah.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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WASHINGTON – Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, reacted on Wednesday to a report by The Jerusalem Post which quoted Palestinian Authority officials saying that they are disappointed with Jordan’s and Egypt’s decision to attend the Bahrain economic workshop in two weeks.

“The economic workshop that will take place in Bahrain is a unique opportunity for government officials, business leaders and civil society to share ideas, discuss strategies and galvanize support for potential investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement,” Greenblatt said in a statement.

“We look forward to robust international participation and hope that Palestinian leadership will realize that their refusal to attend the workshop is short-sighted. The PA is only harming themselves and shutting their people out of crucial discussions on a framework for a prosperous future for Israel, the Palestinians and the region.”

Former United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that Israel’s security is paramount in the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century,” in an interview Yisrael Hayom published on Thursday.

The former ambassador has already read the American peace deal and told the Israeli paper that she believes both sides were taken into consideration.

When asked in the interview if Israelis should be worried about a quid pro quo situation after the US recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Haley answered: “When the peace team came up with this plan, one of the main goals of Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt was to prevent harm to Israel’s national security interests.

“I think everyone should look at the program with an open mind. Everyone should want a peace plan, everyone should strive for a better situation, and I think it can happen.”

Haley expressed her disappointment with the Arab countries who decided not to attend the conference in Bahrain, where Trump will release the economic part of the deal.

“It shows that the Arab countries do not really care about the Palestinians – because if the Palestinians were so important to them, they would all lead them to the table and it would likely improve the situation,” Haley said in the report.

Meanwhile, US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said that he was not going to back off of plans to introduce a resolution expressing support for a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I just can’t envision how you can solve this with a one-state solution,” said Graham, chairman of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that controls federal foreign aid, and who has traveled extensively to the region over the years. He was speaking in an interview with American publisher McClatchy.


Graham and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) are expected to soon introduce a symbolic resolution expressing Congress’s support for “two states for two peoples” – the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.

Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, has been in touch with Graham and Van Hollen to request they exclude direct use of the term “two-state solution” in the measure, according to two sources familiar with the conversations. Israeli officials declined to confirm or deny reports of talks.

Graham and Van Hollen are working on the measure at a precarious moment in Middle East peace talks. On June 25, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is scheduled to appear at a summit in Manama, Bahrain, to unveil the economic portion of the president’s long-awaited plan to bring stability to the region.

Bridgett Frey, a spokeswoman for Van Hollen, said in a statement that: “Both senators... are longtime supporters of a two-state solution and are working on the best way to advance that commitment in Congress.”

Graham told McClatchy that he and Van Hollen were talking to “everybody” as they draft their resolution.

“We’re gonna talk to the Israelis and the Jordanians, and see where everything fits in,” said Graham.

“I don’t want to get in the way of Jared,” Graham continued, “but I can’t envision a one-state solution; it won’t work. I mean, you’d have to disenfranchise the Palestinians. That won’t work. If you let them vote, as one state, they’ll overwhelm the Israelis. That won’t work. So if you want to have a Democratic, secure Jewish state, I think you have to have two states to make that work.”

However, Graham insisted he had not heard from any officials expressing displeasure about the possibility the resolution might endorse the two-state solution, or that he and Van Hollen had been encouraged to scrap the measure. “That would be news to me.”

And he made it clear that if someone did reach out to him, he wasn’t going to change his position.

“I’d be very interested to see somebody advocate for a one-state solution,” he said. “I’d like to see what that would look like.”

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