Israel, U.S. aim to achieve formula on construction

Netanyahu and Trump's envoy meet for five hours, discuss construction in Judea and Samaria.

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Nitsan Keidar,

Netanyahu and Greenblatt
Netanyahu and Greenblatt
GPO photo

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, on Monday evening met for five hours in Jerusalem.

The two discussed a number of issues, but the meeting dealt mainly with the Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace process.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu and Greenblatt confirmed the shared commitment of Israel and the United States “to promote a real and lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, that will strengthen Israel's security and the stability in the region.”

Netanyahu told Greenblatt, according to the statement, “I believe that under the leadership of President Trump, it will be possible to promote peace between Israel and all its neighbors, including the Palestinians. I look forward to working closely with President Trump toward the realization of this goal.”

Greenblatt reiterated Trump’s commitment to Israel's security and to the effort to help Israelis and Palestinians reach a lasting peace through direct negotiations.

The subject of construction in Judea and Samaria was raised in the meeting as well, and the parties agreed to try to reach a formula that will promote “peace and security”, according to the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Greenblatt asked Netanyahu to focus on encouraging the growth of the PA economy and improving the quality of life of Palestinian Arabs, two issues that President Trump is interested in advancing.

The Prime Minister assured his guest that he is fully committed to the prosperity of the PA economy and considers this a means to improve the possibility of achieving peace.

Earlier on Monday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Greenblatt was touring Israel to gauge attitudes to peacemaking and there will likely not be any developments from the trip.

“He’s really there to listen to both sides and how they perceive getting to a peace process,” Toner told reporters, adding, “I don’t expect any big developments out of this trip.”

Trump has prioritized the issue of Israel-PA peace, naming both Greenblatt as well as his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to be in charge of the peace process.

On Friday, Trump spoke on the phone with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, their first conversation since Trump took office.

On Sunday, Abbas said that Trump assured "asserted his full commitment to the peace process".

The PA chairman added that he told Trump he opposes extremism and will cooperate with the U.S. to reach a peace deal based on the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel.