U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt writes op-ed in response to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat’s outrageous ‘inaccuracies’, “Dr. Erekat, we have heard your voice for decades and it has not achieved anything close to Palestinian aspirations or anything close to a comprehensive peace agreement…The notion that Israel is going away, or that Jerusalem is not its capital, is a mirage.”
By Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff
U.S. President Donald Trump’s special Middle East envoy lashed out at a veteran Palestinian official on Sunday, saying his “false claims” and rhetoric haven’t brought peace closer.
In an op-ed published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Jason Greenblatt responded to an earlier op-ed, penned by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, accusing American officials of acting as “spokespeople” for Israel and criticizing the U.S. for relocating its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The exchange comes shortly before the Trump administration is expected to unveil its Middle East peace plan. Trump has promised to pursue the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians.
Greenblatt wrote that Erekat’s claims “were in many respects simply inaccurate.”
Erekat had condemned the U.S. for the embassy move, noting that it went ahead amid violence between Israel and Palestinians along the Gaza border. Israel has responded to international criticism of its defense tactics on the border, where more than 100 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with the Israeli military during violent protests, by pointing out that Hamas uses demonstrators as human shields while trying to execute terrorist attacks against Israeli forces and residential communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
Erekat wrote that the stark juxtaposition between the particularly violent protest in Gaza on the day of the embassy inauguration in Jerusalem “aptly demonstrates the complete U.S. and Israeli denial of the Palestinian history of dispossession.”
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On Sunday, Greenblatt hit back: “For far too long, the United States has turned a deaf ear to such words but ignoring hateful and false words has not brought peace and it will never bring peace,” he wrote.
“While some protesters were peaceful, many were quite violent. In fact, by Hamas’ own admission, more than 80% of those killed were Hamas operatives,” he said.
He reiterated Trumps’ assertion that the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty were to be officially determined in peace negotiations and that the U.S supports the status quo at the Temple Mount – a Jerusalem holy site that is revered by both Jews and Muslims.
But Palestinians say the decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem and the preceding recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital proved that the U.S. has sided with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This bias disqualifies the U.S. from its traditional role of Middle East peace broker, the Palestinian contend.
“The notion that Israel is going away – or that Jerusalem is not its capital – is a mirage. The notion that the United States is not the critical interlocutor for the peace process is a mirage,” Greenblatt wrote.
U.S. officials say the administration intends to release the peace plan in mid-to-late June, shortly after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. They say Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Greenblatt have already begun quietly briefing select allies and partners on elements of the proposal.
Greenblatt wrote that over the past 16 months in his position he has heard many Palestinian voices that disagree with Erekat’s approach but are “afraid to speak publicly.”
“Dr. Erekat, we have heard your voice for decades and it has not achieved anything close to Palestinian aspirations or anything close to a comprehensive peace agreement. Other Palestinian perspectives might help us finally achieve a comprehensive peace agreement where Palestinian and Israeli lives can be better,” Greenblatt wrote.
Erekat fired back in Haaretz later Sunday, rebuking Trump’s special envoy over his negotiation efforts.
He said Greenblatt’s position was aligned with the leaders of Israel’s far Right rather than being objective. “It is not the rhetoric of a U.S. official tasked with supporting the interests of peace in the region,” he wrote.
“In dozens of meetings we had with Mr. Greenblatt, he refused to discuss substance: no borders, no settlements, and no two-state solution. Today, his role is nothing less than peddling Israeli policies to a skeptical international community, and then becomes upset when he’s reminded of this,” Erekat wrote.
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