US Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, has said that the White House is to reopen the PLO’s office in Washington if Israeli-Palestinian talks resume.
In an interview with the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam published yesterday, he said: “The PLO office in Washington can be reopened once negotiations are resumed.”
“The PLO office could have been kept open if it was involved in a peace process,” he said, noted that it was closed “because President Abbas threatened Israel with going to the ICC.”
Regarding the closure of the consulate in Jerusalem, he said: “We have a responsibility to American taxpayers. If we have a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem because we have now recognised that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the presence of two diplomatic missions in Jerusalem is a waste of money from taxpayers.”
He added: “What we have done is that we have established a unit for Palestinian affairs at the embassy, the same group of people who have the same knowledge of dealing with the Palestinians and are in the same building.”
“The integration took place in the embassy, so I know it is different, but I understand that in regarding the links between the US government and the Palestinian people will remain the same as before.”
He noted that “if someone does not want to deal with the embassy from the Palestinian side, he is welcome to contact me directly at the White House.”
Deal of the century
Greenblatt said that the US administration has not decided when to publish its peace plan for the Middle East dubbed the “deal of the century”.
“We haven’t decided when we will release the political vision. We are taking into account the Israeli election to decide whether we should release it before the elections or after, before the government is formed or after,” he said.
The White House seeks to speak to “ordinary Palestinians” about its peace plan, which is firmly rejected by the Palestinians.
“One idea would be potentially inviting Palestinian journalists to the White House, or maybe somewhere more neutral, and have our team make presentations directly to the Palestinian media and have Palestinian media be able to see and explain to the people what the plan is all about,” he said.
The US administration faced great difficulties in bringing participants to the economic workshop in Bahrain, prompting Greenblatt to stress that if the Palestinian and Israeli sides did not start negotiations, things would fail.
“But if we do not get to the [negotiations] room because people are not ready to enter, that’s what happened with the Palestinian side in Bahrain, nothing will happen and we understand that,” Greenblatt said.