US Envoy: Deal of the Century Meets Needs of Israel’s Security

US Envoy: Deal of the Century Meets Needs of Israel’s Security

Monday, 10 September, 2018 - 11:15
Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. (Reuters)
Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat
The United States will not endorse a plan that does not meet all of Israel’s security issues because they are of extreme importance to Washington, said Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt.

During an interview with The Land of Israel Network, Greenblatt asserted that the US administration is committed to Israel’s security, and “we very much believe that the plan that we developed clearly reflects that. Ultimately, both sides are going to have to be comfortable with the plan.”

Greenblatt is referring to the peace plan known as “deal of the century” which has not been suggested yet because Palestinians reject it.

“We think both sides are going to gain a lot more than they give,” he asserted.

Palestinian officials also accuse the plan of aiming to separate Gaza Strip from the West Bank, which Greenblatt somehow hinted to when he stated that if the situation in Gaza remained unresolved, it will be “an obstacle on the road to peace.”

He added that “Hamas itself is an obstacle on the road to peace. It is not a secret that the Palestinians of Gaza are hostage to Hamas.”

Previously, Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected any US intervention in Gaza, however, Greenblatt explained that the plan lays out each issue and proposed solutions very clearly so both sides can understand beyond an “aspirational term sheet what the solutions really are and whether they are going to be willing to live with those proposed solutions.”

He noted that the peace plan was devised after extensive conversations with regional leaders and other stakeholders, describing the deal as “realistic, fair, and equally important, implementable.”

Greenblatt said that at the moment, the Palestinian leadership is not talking to White House officials after Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“He’s [Trump] done something no other president had the courage to do. He recognized the reality that Jerusalem is and always will be Israel’s capital,” according to Greenblatt.

Asked about Washington’s recent decision to cut UNRWA funding, he said that the organization is nearly out of funds, and it is time to have everybody acknowledge that their business operation is a failing model.

The US was so far UNRWA's largest contributor, providing it with $350 million annually, roughly one-quarter of the agency's overall budget.

The US move is part of a wider plan to end the right of return and reduce the number of Palestinian refugees from five million to 40,000.

Washington said it will recognize the 700,000 refugees who were expelled from or fled their homes in 1948 and will not recognize their children or grandchildren as refugees.

However, Israel is afraid that UNRWA’s de-funding could lead to a confrontation in Gaza. Israeli defense officials agreed in a meeting last week that the government must develop an alternative to the UNRWA in the Gaza Strip in order to head off a humanitarian disaster.

At the end of this month, a donor conference will be held in New York, with the participation of Israeli delegation led by coordinator of government activities in the occupied territories Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun.

Organizers are expected to encourage donor countries to pitch in to guarantee the continued delivery of food, education services and the salaries to the UN’s 30,000 employees in the Strip.

The Israel forces warned last week, however, that if the UN agency’s Gaza operations cease without a workable alternative, then an escalation in violence is nearly inevitable.

Hamas will more easily be able to direct popular criticism toward Israel and clash with Israel, even if limited, to highlight the issue internationally.

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