Trump plan is unique, makes many demands on Palestinians before statehood, says Greenblatt

Former US negotiator Jason Greenblatt said that while the plan provides that land be set aside for a potential Palestinian state, there are many conditions the Palestinians must fulfill, including “60 to 80 pages’ worth of important criteria.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Jason Greenblatt told Israel Army Radio on Thursday that the Trump Mideast plan was “realistic and implementable,” as well as unique in that it makes the creation of a Palestinian state dependent on the Arab side fulfilling a long list of conditions first.

President Trump’s former chief negotiator for what’s been dubbed the ‘deal of the century’ which was unveiled in January after three years of crafting, made it clear a Palestinian state wouldn’t be granted without movement on the Palestinian side.

The peace plan, he said, calls for “a realistic Palestinian state that complies with the 60 to 80 pages’ worth of important criteria, which includes stopping terrorism against Israel, stopping to pay Palestinians to kill, murder, harm Israelis. There’s a lot of criteria before the Palestinians will ever become a state, if that will ever happen.”

He added, “I think that’s what differentiates the plan we released from some of the past efforts. There are things that have to be completed, taken care of, solved, before you begin a discussion on what a Palestinian state should look like.”

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Asked whether it was still possible for the government to implement the part of the plan that “gives” territory to Israel, Greenblatt, a lawyer, was careful not to use the word “annexation,” which is defined as one state taking over the land of another state.

This is not the case with Judea and Samaria, which never formally belonged to a different country, and was part of British Mandate Palestine set aside for Jewish settlement, as first set forth by the Balfour Declaration and subsequently adopted by the San Remo Conference, the League of Nations, and the United Nations, giving it the force of international law several times over.

“The peace plan that we released back in January does contemplate the application of Israeli law, and I’m sure that once the Israeli government decides what it wants to do, it will do it in coordination with the White House, which I think is the right approach.”

Later in the interview, he cautioned that Israel still had an obligation towards the Palestinians within the context of the deal.

“Can the Israeli government declare the extension of Israeli sovereignty, the application of Israeli law? The answer is yes, but under the peace plan that we released, that comes with a commitment to set aside a certain area of land for the eventual, potential Palestinian state.”

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Greenblatt then stressed again that such a Palestinian state “is not the one that people vaguely talk about or one that doesn’t come with a responsible leadership. There’s a lot of criteria to establish a state, as there should be.”

He put the blame on the Palestinians for plan’s stalling the last six months, when asked about the president’s seeming “loss of interest” on the issue.

Trump’s main job is now the Covid-19 crisis and its economic fallout, as well as getting re-elected, Greenblatt said.

“I also think it’s a theoretical question, because the Palestinian leadership discarded and rejected the plan even before it came out, so there’s no actual real movement that can happen on the peace effort. But I think the release of the plan itself was a very, very important first step on a very, very long, complicated road, and at the right time I hope that there’ll be traction on it.”

Greenblatt, who stepped down from his White House position last September, expressed cautious optimism for the future.

“I hope the White House and Israeli government keep trying,” he said, “and I hope the Palestinian leadership comes to its senses, because I think the plan we presented is a realistic and implementable plan.”