Trump Adviser Meets with Israeli, Palestinian Leaders Amid Push for Peace
JNS.org – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, for more than five hours in Jerusalem on Monday night. The talks came amid the Trump administration’s efforts to jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has been frozen since 2014.
Last week, President Trump held his first phone conversation with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. During the conversation, Trump invited the Palestinian leader to visit the White House, and, according to a statement released by the administration, “emphasized [Trump’s] personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal.”
Monday’s meeting between Greenblatt and Netanyahu covered a broad range of issues, from settlement construction to bolstering the Palestinian economy.
According to an official statement from the prime minister’s office, Netanyahu and Greenblatt reiterated their nations’ mutual desire to develop a comprehensive framework for an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace “that strengthens the security of Israel and enhances stability in the region.”
According to the meeting readout, Netanyahu told Greenblatt that he looked forward to working with the new US administration, and believed that peace was possible “under President Trump’s leadership.” Greenblatt reaffirmed the Trump administration’s commitment to safeguarding the Jewish State’s security, and to achieving peace “through direct negotiations.”
Greenblatt and Netanyahu also discussed Israeli settlement construction and how to approach that issue from a vantage point that is “consistent” with the goal of advancing security and peace. In early February, the Trump White House criticized Israeli construction, saying: “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”
In the meeting, Greenblatt also underscored “how important enabling the growth of the Palestinian economy and improving the quality of life for Palestinians are to President Trump.” Netanyahu assured Greenblatt of Israel’s commitment to increasing Palestinian prosperity “as a means of bolstering the prospects for peace,” the Israeli leader’s office stated.
Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Greenblatt met on Tuesday with PA President Abbas in Ramallah.
Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew from Teaneck, New Jersey, worked as a real estate lawyer with Trump for 20 years, and also advised Trump on issues related to Israel during last year’s election campaign.
In a June 2016 interview published by The Jewish Link of New Jersey and JNS.org, Greenblatt said that “you need to listen to the other side, you have to try to piece together everything to try to address as many issues as you can, with both sides satisfied that a fair and appropriate deal has been struck. Not everyone is happy all the time.”
“I am not diminishing the concept of a peace deal or a US-Israel relationship; they are complicated and there are lots of layers,” he said, “but people like Donald, who are skilled negotiators, and people on his team who have worked on transactions large and small over the course of their careers, are well-suited to these things.”