With peace plan launch delayed, Greenblatt announces final departure date

While originally Greenblatt planned to stay until after the peace plan was published, its numerous delays have caused him to decide to announce his official resignation date

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy. (photo credit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)
Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy.
(photo credit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)
Due to the continued delay in the formation of a new government in Israel, Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has finalized his departure date from the White House and will now leave at the end of the month.
Greenblatt announced in September that he would be stepping down from his role, but had originally intended to stay until the official rollout of the peace plan, which the White House had said would take place following the formation of a new government in Israel.
Since the election was held on September 17, there has been almost no progress in coalition talks.
The mandate to form a government, given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, will expire on Wednesday night, after which President Reuven Rivlin is expected to give Blue and White leader Benny Gantz four weeks to attempt to form a government.
Greenblatt’s last day in the White House will be around November 1, after which he is expected to seek employment in the private sector.
Greenblatt has offered to continue to help the administration advance the peace plan once it comes out even though he will no longer be working in the government.
Greenblatt worked closely alongside US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as part of a small team led by Trump’s Senior Adviser Jared Kushner.
Greenblatt’s role will now be shared by Kushner and Friedman, as well as Avi Berkowitz, a deputy assistant to the president, and Brian Hook, the State Department’s top official on Iran. Kushner, Berkowitz and Hook will visit Israel next week for talks with Netanyahu and Gantz.
Greenblatt received widespread praise after announcing his departure in September. Trump called him a “loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer,” and Kushner said that he had done “a tremendous job leading the efforts to develop an economic and political vision for a long sought-after peace in the Middle East.”
Greenblatt was the chief architect of the much-anticipated peace plan, details of which have barely leaked out since the administration started working on it about two-and-a-half years ago.
He played a key role in breaking down barriers between Israel and Sunni Arab states in the Persian Gulf, as well as in advancing many of the Trump administration’s decisions regarding Israel including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Greenblatt also played a key role in changing the US government’s language for how it described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He referred to “settlements” as “cities and neighborhoods,” “occupied territories” as “disputed,” and was the first to say that while the Palestinians aspire to have a capital in east Jerusalem, an aspiration is not a right.
He also refrained from using the term “Palestinian refugees” and instead consistently said “Palestinians who lived in refugee camps,” pointing out how they were being used as political pawns.
He was also a sharp critic of UNRWA, and repeatedly spoke about how UNRWA deprived Palestinians in refugee camps from the better future they deserve.
Greenblatt strongly defended Israel in his many appearances before the United Nations Security Council, and like former ambassador Nikki Haley, consistently criticized the UN for its anti-Israel bias. Greenblatt never shied away from calling out Hamas and Islamic Jihad for their attacks against Israel, and saying that Hamas that was the main cause of Palestinian suffering in the Gaza Strip.
While the Palestinian Authority officially boycotted Greenblatt, since announcing his departure from the White House, he has received some letters from Palestinian and Israeli officials thanking him for his service.
In one letter, a Palestinian wrote “thank you on behalf of myself and the Palestinian people for the honest, fruitful and candid conversations we’ve had.” The Palestinian official went on to write that while his initial conversations with Greenblatt were not easy, “your friendliness and honesty soon made me abandon my presumptive political fears and count you as a true friend of myself and my people.”