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US envoy Greenblatt: Israel-Palestine conflict is not the core regional problem

September 4, 2018 at 2:28 pm

US Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt in Ramallah, West Bank on 25 May 2017 [Issam Rimawi / Anadolu Agency]

The Israel-Palestinian conflict “is not, as many have claimed, the core conflict of the region,” US Special Envoy for the Peace Process Jason Greenblatt said in a statement released to three newspapers in the English, Arabic and Hebrew media.

Writing on the Trump administration’s “deal of the century” in a piece entitled “President Donald J. Trump wants this to be a new year of shalom, salaam, peace”, Greenblatt went on to specify what he deemed were the greatest threats to the Middle East, centred primarily on terrorism.

“[Other conflicts include] the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [Daesh], terrorists in the Sinai Desert in Egypt, a tragic, continuing civil war in Syria, war in Yemen, Hezbollah (a terrorist organisation sponsored by Iran) in Lebanon, instability in Libya, and an Iranian regime that oppresses its own people and foments terrorism around the world,” he wrote. “Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not solve other conflicts in the region.”

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Political analysts and historians have repeatedly recognised the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the crux of many regional problems, with the unresolved issue of Palestinian refugees affecting numerous neighbouring states, and aggressive Israeli policies towards Palestinians and Muslim holy sites posing a constant political challenge for Arab governments.

Greenblatt however, went on to condemn the alleged lack of willingness on the part of Palestinians to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

“At the time of this writing, the Palestinian leadership refuses to engage with us. Such refusal began when President Trump made his bold, courageous and historic decision to recognise the reality that Jerusalem has been and will remain the capital of Israel,” he claimed.

Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December was met with near unanimous condemnation from the international community, with the UN General Assembly voting to reject the move.

US embassy might be moved to Jerusalem – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Greenblatt concluded by condemning Hamas in the Gaza Strip, failing to mention the 170 Palestinians who have been killed by Israel at the Gaza border since the start of the Great March of Return earlier this year: “I will pray for an enduring solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will pray for calm and tranquillity for those in the region of Gaza – both Israelis and Palestinians who suffer from Hamas’ malign activities.”

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The statement also failed to make mention of US cuts to Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, after the White House announced on Friday that it would no longer be pledging its $360 million in donations each year, plunging the agency into a deeper financial crisis.

The decision follows revelations that the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner has been pushing for the refugee status of thousands of Palestinians to be removed in an effort to halt the majority of UNRWA’s operations.