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March 21, 2017 6:01 pm

Israeli Officials Accuse Obama Holdover of ‘Straining the Atmosphere’ of Trump Envoy’s Recent Israel Visit

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US diplomatic envoy Jason Greenblatt and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO via Netanyahu’s Twitter account.

Israeli officials are accusing US National Security Council Middle East staffer Yael Lempert — a holdover from the Obama administration — of “straining the atmosphere” of diplomatic envoy Jason Greenblatt’s visit to Israel last week, the Hebrew news site nrg reported.

According to the report — which was first highlighted by Jewish Insider — Lempert tried unsuccessfully to prevent Greenblatt from meeting with Israeli settler leaders. Her effort, the report said, was thwarted by “counter-pressure” applied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Greenblatt, the report noted, had come to the region “to listen, but Lempert’s influence was on display, and not in a positive way.”

“Among other things,” the report went on to say, “Greenblatt repeated statements that were heard many times during the Obama administration — that Israel is the stronger side in the conflict and therefore is expected to first take conciliatory measures towards the Palestinian Authority. Israeli officials assessed that this argument, as well as human rights issues raised by Greenblatt, echoed similar comments made [in the past] by Lempert, who holds similar views to those of J Street.”

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During his Middle East trip, Greenblatt met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman.

A statement released by Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister and Greenblatt “reaffirmed the joint commitment of both Israel and the United States to advance a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians that strengthens the security of Israel and enhances stability in the region.”

Furthermore, the statement said, Netanyahu and Greenblatt “continued discussions relating to settlement construction in the hope of working out an approach that is consistent with the goal of advancing peace and security.”

Yoav Horowitz, Netanyahu’s chief of staff, is currently in Washington for further talks with Greenblatt about the settlement issue.

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