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Senior White House official declines to endorse Palestinian independence

US President Donald Trump's Assistant and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meet in Ramallah, West Bank on May 25, 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
US President Donald Trump's Assistant and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meet in Ramallah, West Bank on 25 May 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Top White House official Jason Greenblatt has once again declined to endorse Palestinian statehood in an interview with NPR.

A frequent, public critic of the Palestinian Authority, Greenblatt renewed his attacks on the Palestinian leadership – “if they choose to cut us off to the detriment of their people and to the detriment of the possibility of peace, that’s their choice”, he said.

“We aren’t going to give them the so-called carrots or, you know, goodies in order to buy them to come to the table, because it’s never worked before,” Greenblatt added.

Pressed by NPR as to “whether the Palestinians deserve to have independence the way Israelis have independence,” the White House official declined to answer in the affirmative.

READ: US to reopen PLO office if talks with Israel resume says Greenblatt

“I would just say that you can’t summarize such an extraordinarily complex conflict with the word ‘independence’. You can’t summarize the conflict with the words ‘two-state solution’.”

Greenblatt continued: “There are just too many things, too many layers to this conflict to allow one- or three-word slogans or phrases to summarize the conflict.”

The timing of the publication of the Trump administration’s “peace plan” has been the subject of much speculation, and Greenblatt acknowledged the significance of the September Israeli election, and subsequent coalition formation.

“The president hasn’t made his decision yet [about releasing the plan],” Greenblatt said. “We’re protecting something very delicate. We want to make sure that it succeeds. So we want to air it at the right timing, and we will know the decision pretty soon…The plan is pretty much finished.”

READ: Illegal Israel settlements are ‘neighbourhoods and cities’ says Greenblatt

Questioned about the inconsistency of promising investment, on the one hand, and cutting US aid, on the other, the Trump administration official doubled down on the aid slashing.

“If there’s traction on the political engagement, once we reveal the political plan, then we will certainly look into restoring certain things and trying to improve lives along the way,” Greenblatt said.

“But at the moment…we have not only non-engagement but actually boycotts undermining…all of our efforts. Insults hurled at the president, our ambassador to Israel, many members of the administration. It is not a wise use of U.S. taxpayer money to keep feeding into a system where there is no positive momentum,” he added.

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Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
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