US Envoy Greenblatt Censures PA for Undermining Israel-Hamas Gaza Deal
JNS.org – The United States leveled harsh criticism at the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday for derailing Egyptian-led efforts toward a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
In a statement on Wednesday, US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said “the Trump administration strongly supports the efforts of [Egyptian] President [Abdel Fattah] El-Sissi and the Egyptian government to help facilitate an agreement to restore calm in Gaza and bring about the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza.”
“The Palestinian Authority cannot criticize from the sidelines,” he warned. “The Palestinian Authority should be part of the solution for the Palestinians of Gaza and Palestinians as a whole. If not, others will fill that void.”
“Leadership is about making hard choices,” Greenblatt said, in a veiled dig at Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. “The people of Gaza, and Israelis in the area around Gaza, have suffered for far too long. It is time for the Palestinian Authority to lead the Palestinian people—all Palestinians—to a better future.”
Greenblatt’s statement comes days after Palestinian media quoted Abbas as voicing outrage at the Egyptian moves towards striking an agreement between Israel and Hamas. According to reports, Abbas described the emerging agreement as “a betrayal and a defiance of the [Palestinian] leadership.”
“A ceasefire agreement and a truce will be reached over my dead body,” Abbas was quoted as telling a senior Palestinian official. “If the agreement is signed without the approval of the Palestinian Authority, it will be considered a betrayal.”
Nonetheless, Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar remarked on Wednesday the agreement between Israel and Hamas was not contingent on internal Palestinian reconciliation between rival factions Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah.
On Tuesday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told members of the American Jewish Congress that contrary to a recent declaration by US President Donald Trump, Israel will not be asked to pay a “higher price” in negotiations with the Palestinians in exchange for official US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Speaking to AJC representatives by phone, Friedman clarified that the only price Trump was asking of both sides was to demonstrate a willingness to advance long-stalled peace talks.
“The president feels that if the parties are lucky enough to be sitting in a room and making progress, he might say to the Israelis, ‘Look, can you do a little bit more? Look what we did for you. Is there’s something more that you could do?’ It’s not that he has something specific in mind, but just that under the circumstances that the United States has engaged in really significant good faith efforts to strengthen Israel and strengthen its historical multi-thousand-year connection to Jerusalem, maybe the Israelis could make it clear by leaning in a little bit as well,” said Friedman.
Friedman also confirmed a recent remark by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who said that there was no timetable for the much-awaited unveiling of the US peace plan.