Jason Greenblatt, former Trump White House Envoy and author of “In the Path of Abraham: How Donald Trump Made Peace in the Middle East — and How to Stop Joe Biden from Unmaking It,” explains that he wrote the book so he could set the record straight about his time in the White House, giving readers an accurate account.
“I wanted to explain to people what we learned in the three years that I was at the White House,” Greenblatt tells Israel National News from the CPAC and Tel Aviv Salon's International Conservative Conference in Tel Aviv, produced with Shibolet and Sela Meir publications. “So many of the things being thrown around are inaccurate."
He explains: "Let’s take East Jerusalem as a question, everybody keeps saying East Jerusalem should be the capital of a state called ‘Palestine,’ that of course includes the Temple Mount. Where does that come from? Where it comes from at least according to what I was briefed by my government, it came from people saying it for so long that now it’s become ‘this is what it is.’ But there’s no piece of paper out there that says East Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians, and I got to speak in front of the UN Security Council about this where I was able to say that the aspiration of Palestinians for East Jerusalem as their capital is not a right. But Europe and the United Nations and others keep saying East Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians.”
In terms of President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, Greenblatt had a mixed reaction to the president’s comments on the “two-state solution.”
“The message that i took from his visit was first of all he does support this phrase ‘two-state solution’ which I’m against using because that means different different things to so many different people, it's way too short to understand the complexity of the conflict. I never use it because it means nothing. What I think he said is now is not the time to engage in peace efforts and I do agree with him on that,” he says.
“I thought it was a good visit. President Biden does appear to be a supporter of Israel, he's a Zionist. I think him meeting at Yad Vashem and speaking to the survivors was really really touching and important and I think that was good, but then you have to think about Iran. There's no question that he and Prime Minister Lapid are apart on this. Prime Minister Lapid, who's not a hawk, was very clear. He does not think negotiations [will work.]”
He continues: “Israel is apart from America on this, I think the region is apart from America on this. I think America is relying on the Europeans much to our detriment and to the detriment of Israel and its Arab neighbors.”
Greenblatt is very critical of Biden’s visit, unaccompanied by Israeli officials, to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.
“The fact that President Biden went to the East Jerusalem hospital without Israelis shows to me that he believes that East Jerusalem, some portion of it or all of it, belongs to the Palestinians. It's inconsistent with US law, with the Jerusalem Recognition Act. It's a violation of the law, at least in spirit,” he says. “It's part of Israel and it's a real shame that he went there without Israeli officials.”
Greenblatt’s view on Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the fact that the Saudis said they would not proceed with the Abraham Accords until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a solution, is that it's not necessarily a step back but instead that the Saudis are making slow progress and should be given credit.
“We should give the Saudis a lot of credit for their decision to allow flyover rights, that’s extremely meaningful to Israel,” Greenblatt says. “I don't think their public messaging is different. They're not putting forth a long lists of demands for the Palestinians. They're saying, very respectfully, look we support the Palestinian people. We would like to see a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel is part of the region and we want Israel to be part of the region. But they're not yet ready to sign the Abraham Accords. I still call them a country who one day will. I think it’s inevitable but I think we need to respect their time and their space. They are working on a lot of things. [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud] is changing the country and Israel is only one aspect of what he has to change.”
Greenblatt was in Hebron this week with CPAC taking a tour of the city. He explains that there were important lessons that the people on the tour experienced and that should be conveyed to a wider audience.
“The person who gave us a tour was able to point out to us what I call Palestinian settlements. I touch on this in the book. Everybody's always critical of the Israeli settlements. I don't like to call them settlements. I call them cities, towns, and neighborhoods. I think people should stop using that word because it's become a negative word,” he says. “Nobody talks about Palestinian building. There's Palestinian building all over the place, largely funded by Europeans. I don't know why that's not part of the conversation. That was en route to Hebron itself. UNESCO claims it's not a Jewish heritage site. Any person with a brain in their head just has to go there to understand what's going on. That's one of the myths. There is so much misinformation or outright outrageous fabrication. I would encourage anyone who wants to understand Israel, who's an Israel supporter, to go to Hebron, go to the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs, and understand the truth.”