Binyamin Netanyahu, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt
Binyamin Netanyahu, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt Reuters

Jason Greenblatt, the US Special Representative for International Negotiations, explained on Tuesday why no official Israeli representatives were invited to the conference in Bahrain and revealed his views on the Trump administration’s peace plan and its chances of resulting in an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In an interview with Yuna Leibzon of Channel 12 News, Greenblatt said, “The Israeli government won’t be represented [at the Bahrain conference]. Israeli businesspeople will be there. Our goal is to unveil an economic plan that the Palestinians can benefit from tremendously. Jordanians and Egyptians as well.”

“The Palestinian Authority has chosen to boycott what will be an exciting workshop, I think much to the detriment of the Palestinian people. There will be a time when we can have the Israeli government weigh in on our vision, on this economic vision, but at the moment we’re trying to not keep it political,” he continued.

“We want to keep it business oriented,” said Greenblatt. “There will be finance ministers from other countries as well, because we think they will be either potential donors to the plan or can give us some input, but to depoliticize the issue, we’ve decided not to have the Israeli government itself there and just have the Israeli private sector there.”

Asked what will happen at the workshop, Greenblatt replied, “Jared [Kushner] and a team of very talented people from the National Security Council, the State Department, the Treasury Department, all sorts of agencies of the United States, private sector people, international organizations have worked very hard to develop the vision for the Palestinians. If we achieve a political agreement, here’s what could happen. Here are the many great things that the Palestinians could benefit from.”

“It’s important to stress: It’s part one of a two-part deal. I know there’s a lot of talk that we’re trying to buy the Palestinians off, that this is merely economic peace, but that’s completely untrue. We can’t create peace without worrying about both the political side as well as an economic side.”

Greenblatt was asked if he was disappointed by the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to participate in the economic conference. “I’m not surprised, unfortunately, by the Palestinian side. I think that they make decisions that sometimes aren’t helpful not only for peace but for their people. So disappointed? No. If I’m not surprised, I guess I can’t be disappointed. On the Israeli side there’s no reason to be disappointed. The Israeli government has been very helpful to us over the last two and a quarter years.”

"If we are lucky enough to both achieve a political deal and this economic vision, I feel confident that the Israeli government will be very helpful in the ideas that are generated and likely improve them as well, and we have time to get these improvements down the road," he added.

Greenblatt also addressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's promise to apply Israeli sovereignty on parts of Judea and Samaria, saying, "I don’t think anyone should make unilateral steps until we at least reveal the plan. I don’t think that’s helpful to anybody. It’s a very complex, tough conflict. It’s been going on a long, long time. I think anybody who understands the nature of this conflict understands the chances of success and the timing.”

“What we hope to, of course, is succeed, but if we don’t succeed, we also hope to make sure that people understand the conflict better, people can have dreams and hopes and aspirations about what could be rather than what is. I don’t want to put a number on success, but I do think that we have to try to work toward something, but if we fail, I understand why as well,” concluded the US envoy.