TEL AVIV – The Trump administration may release the political portion of its Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal before Israel’s September 17 national elections, special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt said.
“We haven’t decided when we will release the political vision. We are taking into account the Israeli election to decide whether we should release it before the elections or after, before the government is formed or after,” Greenblatt told the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam in an interview published on Monday.
He added that President Donald Trump will make a final decision soon.
Greenblatt’s comments come as reports emerge of a thawing of relations between the Trump administration and the Palestinian leadership, which has boycotted the U.S. since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the subsequent transfer of the U.S. embassy there.
According to a senior Palestinian Authority official who spoke anonymously to the Hebrew-language Israel Hayom daily, Washington and Ramallah have been engaged in secret talks in a bid to smooth out the rocky relationship. A senior PA delegation led by the head of the PA General Intelligence Service, Majed Faraj, is expected to fly to Washington in the near future to hold talks with White House officials, the report said.
“Both sides have shown a positive attitude and made progress toward resuming ties,” the PA official told Israel Hayom.
Last month, the White House unrolled the $50 billion economic part of its peace proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at an economic peace workshop in Bahrain. Both the plan and the workshop were snubbed by the PA.
Greenblatt told Al-Ayyam that “the Palestinian leadership needs to internalize that the [Bahrain] summit’s success proves there are those who believe in peace and in the Palestinian people’s ability to create a good and flourishing economy with the help of numerous investors. This is an opportunity the Palestinian leadership can’t afford to miss.”
According to Israel Hayom, the PA’s change of heart could be due to its assessment that Trump will be reelected in 2020. The official added that the Al-Ayyam interview with Greenblatt was a way of laying the groundwork for the resumption of dialogue.
“Greenblatt and [U.S. Ambassador to Israel David] Friedman are personae non gratae in the Palestinian Authority and the interview with Greenblatt is intended to soften the Palestinian public’s position before returning to the path of discourse and accepting the Trump administration as a mediator between it and Israel,” the PA official said.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas last week stipulated his government’s conditions if relations were to be restored with Washington.
“You recognize the vision of two states and [acknowledge] east Jerusalem is occupied land and international legitimacy is the basis of any dialogue,” Abbas told reporters. “If you say these words to me or send me these words on a small piece of paper … you will find me at the White House the following day.”