TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt is a “Zionist” who has “no chance of succeeding” in securing peace in the region, the Palestinian Authority said Monday after Greenblatt slammed the Palestinian leadership for “walking away” from negotiations and “lecturing” the U.S. on its decisions regarding aid money.
The PA Foreign Ministry charged the “Zionist American” Greenblatt of endorsing Israel’s “extremist positions.” Even some Israeli politicians and journalists were beginning to sound less radical than Greenblatt, the ministry said. The PA used the term “Zionist” in a derogatory manner even though a Zionist is someone who supports the reestablishment in Israel of a Jewish homeland.
“We believe that the plan of Greenblatt and his Zionist group is doomed to failure,” the ministry said in reference to the Trump administration’s peace plan, which is yet to be unveiled.
In a speech before the annual conference of the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Greenblatt said that the United States “is as committed as ever to reaching an agreement that guarantees a peaceful, prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians. That’s why this administration continues to work on developing a peace plan that can bring both parties to the table.”
“It is easy to walk away from the table. But that helps no one and reduces or perhaps even eliminates the chances of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement, and that would be terrible for the Palestinian people,” he added.
Greenblatt also emphasized President Donald Trump’s position regarding his December declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “When President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he was not rewriting history, he was recognizing a historic reality,” he said.
“The president was absolutely clear that the United States has not prejudiced any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” he added.
Greenblatt was also quoted as telling EU ambassadors in Ramat Gan that settlements are not what is halting progress on negotiations.
At a meeting in Brussels of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, a 15-member body that serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinians, he also defended the U.S.’s recent decision to cut funding to UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.
“The United States has been the single largest donor to the Palestinians in history,” Greenblatt said. “As such, no one should be lecturing us about our financial assistance.”
The PA Foreign Ministry said that the Trump administration’s peace plan “bypasses” the Palestinians.
“This is a plan that was drafted by Israel and endorsed by the U.S. administration,” the ministry said. “We wish to remind Greenblatt that others before him who tried to shun the Palestinians and their cause failed and retreated quietly.”
“If Greenblatt wants to open channels between Israel and some Arab countries, while excluding the Palestinians, we emphasize that no one in the region would dare to accept such an American plan that drops the Palestinian dimension or gives up Jerusalem,” it added. “Greenblatt does not care about the Palestinians’ opinion. His remarks show that he does not believe that the Palestinians are party to the political process.”
Jibril Rajoub, a senior official in PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah party, said that the Trump administration’s “deal of the century” was designed to “liquidate” and “end” the Palestinian cause.
“They will not find a [Palestinian] puppet to fulfill their goals,” Rajoub said, referring to a conspiracy theory floated by the PA that the U.S. is seeking the help of its Arab allies to replace the Palestinian leadership.
“Our will is free and independent and no one can control it,” he said. “We will work with the Arab countries to thwart the deal. Our effort should focus on foiling any attempt to create a Palestinian partner for the deal of the century.”
Qais Abd Al-Karim, a leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, also charged Greenblatt and the Trump administration of looking to “liquidate” the Palestinian issue.
“What the U.S. envoy is talking about is not a peace process,” Abd Al-Karim said. “Instead, this is an attempt to completely liquidate the Palestinian cause and destroy all the national rights of the Palestinians.”