TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East held a three-hour meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday, his second meeting with the Israeli leader since arriving in the country this week.
Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Adviser on International Negotiations, also met with Palestinian officials including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, as well as Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman.
Greenblatt and Netanyahu were said to have “made progress on the issue of Israeli settlement construction,” a joint statement said.
“The Prime Minister and Mr. Greenblatt met today for another positive discussion regarding the shared interest of the United States and Israel in advancing a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians that strengthens the security of Israel. Toward that end, in addition to discussing how to achieve progress in the coming months, they discussed concrete measures that could help support and advance Palestinian economic development,” the statement read.
“They also made progress on the issue of Israeli settlement construction, following up on President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s agreement in Washington last month to work out an approach that reflects both leaders’ views. Those discussions are continuing between the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office,” it adds.
Some of Judaism’s holiest sites are located in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem; the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron; and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.
Last month, Trump said the construction of new settlements “may not be helpful” in the quest for peace.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu is likely to have proposed to the U.S. that Israel be given a green light to build in the large settlement blocs while halting all construction in settlements beyond the security fence.
Netanyahu said ahead of the meeting that one of the goals was to determine a policy on settlement activity that would be favorable to Israel and not just the U.S.
“We are in the midst of a process of dialogue with the White House and our intention is to reach an agreed-upon policy regarding settlement construction. Agreed-upon for us, of course, not just for the American side,” Netanyahu said.
“Naturally, this will be good for the State of Israel since we have not been in these processes for many years,” he added.
Also ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu announced his intention to honor his commitment to “building a new community” for the evacuees from the Jewish outpost settlement of Amona.
In a departure from traditional U.S. diplomacy in the region, Greenblatt also met with settler leaders including Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and Oded Revivi, the chief foreign envoy for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank.
Following the Wednesday meeting, Dagan said, “We respect Trump and the new government. We’re pleased there is a supportive government [in Washington].”
“Our requests are to our government and to our ministers. We must make a drastic change and stop this edicts [against settlement activity] that harm the basic rights” of the Jewish communities in the West Bank, Dagan said.