Greenblatt: I haven't found anything to criticize Israel over

US envoy says he sees nothing to criticize in the decisions taken by PM Binyamin Netanyahu concerning relations with PA.

Elad Benari,

Jason Greenblatt
Jason Greenblatt
Marc Israel Sellem/POOL

US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, a co-author of the Trump administration's peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict, on Wednesday told CNN he sees nothing to criticize in the decisions taken by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu concerning Israel's relations with the Palestinians.

Greenblatt, who has frequently criticized Palestinian Authority leaders for their policies and rejection of the Trump administration's efforts, said he has not voiced similar criticism of Netanyahu or other Israeli officials because he has not "found anything to criticize."

"I haven't found anything to criticize that goes over the line," he told CNN, when asked whether he has ever criticized Netanyahu or the Israeli government.

He rejected a comparison of his differing comments about Palestinian Arab and Israeli officials, pointing to a long-standing Palestinian program that gives stipends to those who carry out attacks on Israelis and the families of those killed while carrying out such attacks.

Asked whether he believes the Israeli government has taken any actions that have held up or been unhelpful to the peace process, Greenblatt replied, "No. I think the government of Israel has been engaged."

Greenblatt's comments came as he and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner pitched the economic portion of their peace plan at the Bahrain economic workshop, proposing $50 billion in investments over 10 years, contingent on a resolution to the conflict.

The PA boycotted the economic conference in Bahrain, saying it would be a meaningless meeting that was part of a meaningless plan, and has been boycotting the US ever since President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of 2017 and his relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The Trump administration has remained tight-lipped about the political aspects of its plan, which Greenblatt said will address the "core issues" of the conflict and is unlikely to be released until November at the earliest.

Greenblatt told CNN he hopes "nobody takes unilateral action ... at least until a peace plan is proposed," but rejected a comparison between Netanyahu's rhetoric and the Palestinian Authority's payments to the families of terrorists who carried out attacks on Israelis.

He demurred, however, when asked whether he would criticize Netanyahu if his administration moves forward with annexing parts of Judea and Samaria.

"We have not made a determination on that. We are not up to things that might happen down the road. I think it's a theoretical conversation at this point," Greenblatt said.

When pressed on the fact that he has criticized PA officials for their rhetoric about his peace plan, Greenblatt again rejected the comparison.

"When I condemn the PA for those kinds of statements, it's saying that our peace plan is going to be born dead. That's a very different thing. There is no comparison to the two statements," Greenblatt said.

"The Palestinian Authority is not only condemning our peace plan, they're taking action to subvert it, to undermine it, to prevent peace from happening. They're not here. They didn't just say they're not coming, they're actually not here. That's much more than a political statement," he added.

Greenblatt also suggested the US has not sworn off a two-state solution -- a question that has hung over the administration's efforts to address the conflict since the early months of Donald Trump's presidency.

Pressed about Kushner's comments in May explaining he had decided to "not say" the words "two-state," Greenblatt said Kushner was referring only to not using that terminology before the release of the plan, leaving open the door to a two-state solution. Kushner's comments were widely interpreted in the Middle East to mean the Trump administration was swearing off the possibility of a Palestinian state in its still-unreleased political plan.

"I think when he said that he was talking about from when we started working on this until a peace plan is revealed," Greenblatt told CNN. "We're not going to use jargon and slogans which mean different things to different people."

Greenblatt added that the administration's political proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "dozens of pages long" and will "spell out how we think the conflict can be ended if both sides are willing to engage and if both sides are willing to compromise."

When asked if he would like to reassure people in the Middle East that the administration has not abandoned a two-state solution, Greenblatt pointed to Trump's past comments.

"I think that President Trump probably said it best when he said that we will support whatever the two sides agree to. We're presenting a plan that we think makes a lot of sense. We hope the two sides could agree to it, but we're not going to get into just trying to distill what is an extraordinary conflict into three words," Greenblatt said.




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