Jason Greenblatt, the outgoing White House Middle East envoy, has told a hard-right Israeli news outlet that using words like "occupation" and "settlements" undermines chances for peace.
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Greenblatt defended his record and that of the Trump administration, and doubled down on rhetoric that has alienated the Palestinian leadership.
"The dispute over the territory is a question that can only be resolved in the context of direct negotiations between the parties, not by throwing around the traditional phrases about this conflict that has led to nothing," Greenblatt said.
"Those who have weaponized the term 'occupation' in order to criticize Israel are doing nothing to promote a resolution to this conflict. In fact, they are heavily undermining the chances for peace and the improvement of the lives of Palestinians and Israelis."
Greenblatt also told the news site that he "prefer[s] the term 'neighbourhoods and cities' to describe what others call 'settlements'", arguing that "use of the term 'settlements' is purely political and ignores the reality of what they actually are."
Israel has held the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip under military occupation since June 1967, and has transferred its civilian population to settlements in the occupied territory.
Settlements have been declared illegal under international law by the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice and International Committee of the Red Cross.
Asked about the Trump peace plan, Greenblatt said that "there isn't much that our team will reveal about our vision for peace until it's officially released…when the time is right". However, Greenblatt did reaffirm that, having "studied the conflict", US officials "have completed our vision for peace".
"When the plan is released, it will be up to both sides to decide how to proceed. When the vision is released, we hope that both parties will read it carefully and not make any hasty decisions."
Greenblatt claimed there would be "many significant benefits in store for [the Palestinians]…under this vision", adding: "We want to provide them with the opportunity to thrive".