TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt met for five hours Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the Trump administration’s attempt to jumpstart the moribund negotiating process with the Palestinians.
“Welcome to Jerusalem!” Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post to Greenblatt.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said that during the meeting, Greenblatt “reaffirmed President Trump’s commitment to Israel’s security and to the effort to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve a lasting peace through direct negotiations.”
On Tuesday, Greenblatt is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
On Friday, Trump spoke with Abbas by phone for the first time and invited him to the White House. The two talked about “ways to advance peace throughout the Middle East region, including a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to a White House statement.
“The president emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal,” the statement said.
The Hebrew news site nrg quoted PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi saying that the aim of Greenblatt’s visit is to understand the Palestinians’ demands for working with Israel on a two-state solution since, as Trump himself stated, “There cannot be any political solution without the Palestinians as partners.” Ashrawi added that Israel’s continued “aggression” has forced the Palestinians to seek solutions from international bodies such as the UN.
According to Channel 2 news, Greenblatt’s visit will also inform the Trump administration’s policy on Jewish communities in the West Bank going forward.
The State Department said that nothing concrete is likely to result from Greenblatt’s trip.
“He’s really there to listen to both sides and how they perceive getting to a peace process,” Mark Toner, the State Department spokesman, said Monday in a press briefing. “I don’t expect any big developments out of this trip.”
On his way to Israel on Monday, Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew, tweeted, “Time for morning prayer (shacharit) at unexpected stop in Frankfurt. Pray for peace.”
Greenblatt attended yeshiva in the 1980s in the Jerusalem-area settlement of Gush Etzion where he also served a stint as an armed guard.