JERUSALEM Ė Donald Trumpís former Israel advisor Jason Greenblatt, one of the architects of the controversial United States peace proposal for the region, said the Palestinian leadership should come to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
Greenblatt, who until recently was Trumpís Special Representative for International Negotiations, declined to talk about the proposed Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank as set out in the deal, one of the many factors that had prompted Palestinian officials, led by Mahmoud Abbas, to baulk at the proposal.
And despite several countries joining the Palestinians in their rejection of the deal, Greenblatt is proud of its contents and openly questioned previous international consensus on what a peace settlement between the Palestinians and Israelis should look like.
Given the Palestinians rejected the plan from the start, what made you push for it nonetheless?
Why? Because I have so many young Palestinian and Israeli young friends who deserve a better future. This conflict has to end at some point. I donít want a leadership who is willing to throw aside the plan before we even knew what was in the plan, before it was launched, to destroy the lives of millions of people.
By the way, itís not just the Israelis and the Palestinians, the successful conclusion of this deal can help the Jordanians, the Egyptians and the Gulf region. It shouldnít be up to stubborn leadership or even worse than that, the terror organizations like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
You said the plan was a base for negotiation. If Israel unilaterally annexes part of the West Bank as set out, then what is there to negotiate?
I think the Palestinian leadership should come to the table and start negotiating quickly. We did put in four years of time for them to do that. We understood that the plan would be difficult for them, difficult to accept.
We respect that and we also knew that it would take time if they go to negotiations to get to the finish line. But if they choose not to engage and use up the four years for nothing, then life has to go on. And life will go on much sooner than the four years.
You canít say no forever and expect things to be frozen in time and thatís how we designed the plan.
You have said that there isnít international consensus on the conflict. However, many countries and international organizations have rejected the US peace plan and insist on the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders.
We donít live here, itís not up to the US, Spain, the United Nations. Thereís clearly a deep divide between countries on this conflict. We couldnít even get the UN to condemn Hamas as a terror organization, was there an international consensus on that? If we couldnít do that, does an international consensus matter on this conflict?
How do you feel about the UNís decision this week to publish a list of 112 companies operating in Israeli occupied territory in the West Bank?
Itís an outrageous list. Theyíve been working on it for years, the fact that they chose to do it after we released the peace plan, shame on them, all theyíre doing is driving peace further and further away.
I would say to my American friends to go out and by double or triple their purchases from the companies on that list.
The UN has been a terrible place for Israel. Very biased. And I think that theyíre not doing anything to help anybody, not Palestinians, not peace, shame on them for doing that. Shame on the Human Rights Council.
Do you think a future Palestinian president or leader could take a different approach and negotiate?
I donít know. I respect President Abbas as a leader who has the strength and the ability to get this done if he chooses to engage. So, Iím not looking past President Abbas. I got to know him during the first year we were in office, 2017. After that obviously, they cut ties to us after President Trumpís bold, courageous and historic decision on Jerusalem.
Did Arab nations give their approval for the plan?
No, we did not get any green lights from them, we tested, we asked, we researched, we listened, a tremendous amount of listening, but ultimately the plan came from the US.
What would you like to see next in the plan?
What Iíd like to see next is the Palestinian leadership recognize that there are so many great things that are in this plan. If they have trouble with the plan then they should sit down and make a list of what theyíd like to change and sit down with the Israelis.
But to throw it out to the garbage and go back to their standard talking points, they are never ever going to bring peace it would be a complete waste of time and yet another generation of Palestinians.