Washington: The architect of the Trump administration’s delayed Mideast peace plan is leaving the White House in the face of widespread skepticism about the viability of the as-yet unseen proposal and questions about whether the vision for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will ever be released.
Jason Greenblatt, a long-time lawyer for the Trump Organization who became the president’s special envoy for international negotiations, announced his departure Thursday, saying he would return to the private sector in the coming weeks and spend more time with his family in New Jersey.
Greenblatt had worked closely with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, on developing the peace plan.
Despite his title and spending nearly three years in the post, Greenblatt never participated in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, who cut off ties with the administration after Trump recognized Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Instead, his role had been to draft the plan, and officials said that has now been finished.
The White House says the peace plan won’t be released until at least after this month’s Israeli elections.
Tentative plans to release the proposal had been scrapped at least twice before.
The plan already is facing rejection by the Palestinians, who have accused the administration of losing its credibility as an honest broker by repeatedly siding with Israel.
Legitimised Israeli occupation
Greenblatt had advocated for the decisions to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Occupied Jerusalem and to recognize Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights - moves that drew anger and skepticism from Palestinians and Arab nations.
He had also led the administration’s push to cut U.S. funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, arguing before the world body that the U.N. Relief and Works Agency is corrupt, encourages anti-Israel sentiment and is prolonging the conflict.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians will “shed no tears” over Greenblatt’s departure.
“He ruined the credibility of the United States and destroyed the peace process,” Abu Rdeneh said.
In contrast to its Democratic and Republican predecessors, the Trump White House has stopped promoting a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, and avoided condemning Israeli colony expansion on occupied lands.
The Jerusalem move, followed by cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, prompted the Palestinians to sever most ties with the U.S.
The White House announced that Greenblatt would be replaced by one of Kushner’s top aides, Avi Berkowitz, who has been traveling with the peace team throughout the Middle East as they put together the plan.
The White House peace effort initially operated largely in isolation from the rest of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus. But as Greenblatt’s departure has approached, the White House has begun integrating it with the State Department’s Iran team.
In addition to Berkowitz, Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, is expected to assume some of Greenblatt’s duties.