US envoy slams senior Palestinian official’s claims that he is taking Israel’s side regarding the ongoing conflict at the Gaza border.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, hit back Friday after being accused of automatically “repeat[ing] Israeli talking points” while “omitting any word of condemnation” of Israeli forces at the Gaza border fence, where daily violence orchestrated by Hamas has been ongoing.
Chief Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiator Saeb Erekat had leveled these highly critical accusations at Greenblatt and the American administration in a letter sent to all foreign diplomats in Ramallah last week. Not for the first time, Erekat also dismissed the idea that Washington could serve as an impartial peace broker since, as he put it, “those who do not consider that the lives of Palestinians and Israelis are of equal value cannot possibly promote any plan that will be remotely close to a just and lasting peace.”
Greenblatt was equally blunt in his response to the charges, calling them “empty, self-indulgent rhetoric.”
“Saeb Erakat’s personal attack on me is a symptom of the difficulties in the path to peace,” he tweeted. “Saeb knows there’s no truth to his accusation. This outburst, like all his recent outbursts, is merely intended as a distraction from the important work that lies ahead.”
Greenblatt urged the Palestinian negotiator to join with the United States and “get to work” on the peace process instead of continuing on a path that would get them “pretty much nowhere.”
What appears to have triggered Erekat’s attack on the US envoy was a series of social media messages that Greenblatt had posted, calling out Yahya Al-Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, for saying that the Palestinians would “tear down the wall and tear out their (meaning Israelis’) hearts.” Such a statement was “monstrous,” the Greenblatt said, adding that “if [Hamas] wants to join the REAL world, it must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and decide to abide by past agreements. It’s time for Hamas to make some real decisions.”
However, Greenblatt had also specifically backed a longstanding PA demand by calling on Hamas to relinquish its control of Gaza to the Ramallah government. Also, the PA notably did not call on the Palestinians under its control to open a second front of protests, which would seemingly be a natural step if it had actually approved of what Hamas was doing.