Politics

Abbas to Greenblatt: Peace deal is possible – Arab-Israeli Conflict


Jason Greenblatt meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit:WAFA)


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday told Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, a US Consulate statement said.

“President Abbas told Mr. Greenblatt that under President Trump’s leadership a historic peace deal is possible, and that it will enhance security throughout the region,” the statement said.

Greenblatt and Abbas met at the Mukata, the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Tuesday, in the second meeting between the Palestinian leader and a member of the new US administration. Abbas met with CIA Director Mike Pompeo in Ramallah in mid-February.

The meeting was also attended by PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinah, and PA General Intelligence Services Chief Majid Faraj.

Greenblatt told Abbas that President Trump is committed to working with Israelis and Palestinians to achieve a peace deal through direct negotiations, the statement added.

Trump has said that he wants to achieve the “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, but has not clearly committed to a specific formula to resolve the conflict.

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like… I can live with either one,” Trump told a White House press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 15, bucking years of firm, US government commitments to the two-state solution.

Abbas also committed to preventing incitement and incendiary rhetoric, according to the statement.

Netanyahu has argued that Palestinian incitement is a major stumbling block to the peace process and a source of violence against Israelis.

US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley pressed Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour in a meeting in early March to take actions to end incitement on the Palestinian side.

PA President Abbas has said on numerous occasions, including a recent meeting with group of Israelis in Ramallah, that there is incitement on both Palestinian and Israeli societies, and called for the revival of a tripartite Israeli-Palestinian-American anti-incitement committee to deal with the issue.

Abbas and Greenblatt discussed plans to develop the Palestinian economy and providing more economic opportunities, the statement continued.

The Palestinian gross domestic product currently stands at approximately $300 million annually, far less than neighboring Israel’s GDP, which is upwards of $12 billion.

Palestinian leaders have expressed interest in cooperating with the US and Israel to improve the Palestinian economy, but have stressed that such efforts need to be a part of a plan to establish an independent Palestinian state.

Abbas also said “he would create an atmosphere conducive is conducive to making peace and would heighten his outreach efforts to the Israeli public,” the statement said.

Abbas has met with many groups of Israelis over the past year as a part of meetings organized by the Palestinian Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, an initiative led by Fatah leader Muhammed al-Madani.

Greenblatt described his meeting with Abbas on Twitter as “positive” and “far-reaching.”

Greenblatt also met with a number of other Palestinian groups on Tuesday, including a group of entrepreneurs, students in Bethlehem, PA security officials, and residents of refugee camp north of Ramallah.

Tuesday’s meeting with Abbas comes less than a week after Abbas held his first phone call with Trump, in which the two leaders stated their desire to work to achieve a peace agreement. The call came as a relief to Palestinian officials, who were disappointed that Trump had not contacted  the Palestinian leader earlier.

On Monday, Greenblatt met with Netanyahu for five hours at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said at a press conference on Tuesday that his talks with Greenblatt were “good,” “extensive,” and “candid in the positive sense of the word.”

In an apparent reference to efforts to come up with guidelines with the US to govern future settlement construction, Netanyahu said, “I can’t tell you we reached an agreement, but i think we heard each other out in a serious and friendly way and I think we will probably conclude this effort.”

Netanyahu also said that he made clear to Greenblatt that he intends to build a new settlement for the former residents of Amona, an illegal outpost that was recently evacuated. The settlement would be the first new government-approved settlement built in the West Bank in more than 25 years.

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