Trump Envoy Greenblatt to Resign After Upcoming Release of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan
Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, plans to resign once the long-delayed US peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians that he has been working on is released, officials said on Thursday.
Greenblatt, who had intended to stay only two years when he began working at the White House in early 2017, is eager to return to his wife and six children who stayed behind at their home in New Jersey, the officials said.
Greenblatt and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, as well as the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, have led the effort to develop a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians and have spent the entire Trump presidency working on the project.
Described by Trump as the “deal of the century,” the Republican president’s plan to solve one of the world’s most intractable disputes has drawn deep skepticism from Palestinians.
Trump called Greenblatt “a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer” and said he would be leaving to pursue work in the private sector. “His dedication to Israel and to seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians won’t be forgotten,” Trump said in a Twitter post.
So far, the White House has outlined a $50 billion redevelopment plan for the Palestinians and neighboring countries but have yet to release their proposals for resolving difficult political issues like the status of Jerusalem.
US officials said the political plan is now complete and will be made public when appropriate. Trump has said he will release it some time after Israel holds an election on Sept. 17 that will decide the fate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Whether Trump releases the plan immediately after the election or he waits until a governing coalition is formed, a process that could take weeks, remains unclear.
The Palestinian Authority has boycotted the American peace effort since late 2017 when Trump decided to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing decades of US policy.
The Palestinian Authority declined to comment on Greenblatt’s departure. “Greenblatt’s resignation is proof of his failure, because he did not follow the rules of the peace process and damaged the United States’ credibility as a result,” a Palestinian official in Ramallah told Reuters.
The political details of the plan have remained under wraps, with Kushner refusing to say even whether it would offer Palestinians a state of their own.
Greenblatt will hand over much of his Middle East responsibilities to Kushner aide Avi Berkowitz. Brian Hook, the leader of the State Department’s Iran team, will take on an increased role, a senior administration official said.
Hook has accompanied Greenblatt and Kushner on trips to the region. In a July statement, Greenblatt and Hook argued that Tehran has exploited the Mideast conflict for decades, backing Palestinian militants.
Greenblatt, a former lawyer for Trump, said he was grateful to have been part of the team to draft “a vision for peace.”
“This vision has the potential to vastly improve the lives of millions of Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region,” he said in a statement.
Greenblatt has been a player in all of Trump’s moves aimed at bolstering support for Israel, such as the US recognition of both Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The developing peace plan, which Greenblatt and others have kept secret, is viewed skeptically among many in the Arab world because of expectations it will be a pro-Israel vision. The US team says the plan will require concessions from the Israelis.
Kushner, in a statement, said Greenblatt “has done a tremendous job leading the efforts to develop an economic and political vision for a long sought after peace in the Middle East.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, “I would like to thank Jason Greenblatt for his dedicated work on behalf of security and peace, and for not hesitating for a moment to speak out and tell the truth against all those who spoke ill of the State of Israel.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said Greenblatt “has played a pivotal role over the last two years in strengthening the US-Israel relationship and working on ways to seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”
“We are grateful for his service to our country and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” it added.
Arthur Stark, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, stated, “We are deeply grateful for the devoted service of Jason Greenblatt as special envoy for Middle East peace. Since assuming his role, he has been among the strongest advocates of the US-Israel relationship and advancing peace in the region. We thank him for his tireless and dedicated efforts and his personal sacrifice.”
“Jason always made himself available to discuss the administration’s efforts and the issues on which he was engaged,” they went on to say. “We hope to see his important work yield results in the coming months. We wish him all the best in the future.”