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March 13, 2017 3:26 pm

Following Trump-Abbas Call, US Diplomatic Envoy Kicks Off Middle East Visit With Netanyahu Meeting

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

Jason Greenblatt meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO via Netanyahu's Facebook page.

Jason Greenblatt meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO via Netanyahu’s Facebook page.

As the new US administration continues to formulate its Middle East policies, a diplomatic envoy of President Donald Trump arrived in the Jewish state on Monday and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Welcome to Jerusalem!” Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post that included a picture of him greeting Trump’s special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt at his office in the Israeli capital.

On Tuesday, Greenblatt will travel to Ramallah for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

At the end of last week, Trump spoke with Abbas by phone for the first time. According to the White House, the two talked about “ways to advance peace throughout the Middle East region, including a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

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“The president emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal,” the White House said.

During the call, Trump proffered an invitation to Abbas for a White House meeting.

The Hebrew news site nrg quoted Hanan Ashrawi — a member of the PLO Executive Committee — as telling the Voice of Palestine radio station on Monday that the purpose of Greenblatt’s current visit to the region was to learn the positions of the Palestinians regarding the potential renewal of peace negotiations with Israel aimed at achieving a two-state solution.

As reported by The Algemeiner earlier this month, the Trump administration apparently wants to send the Palestinians a message that time is not working in their favor.

Greenblatt is the US official who has been given the task of working out an understanding with Israel’s Washington envoy, Ron Dermer, about settlement construction — an issue that was a major bone of contention between Netanyahu and former US President Barack Obama.

At a joint White House press conference last month, Trump asked Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements for a little bit” — a request that surprised Israel.

On his way to Israel on Monday, Greenblatt tweeted, “Time for morning prayer (shacharit) at unexpected stop in Frankfurt. Pray for peace.”

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