Mon. Feb 17th, 2020

Greenblatt urges Abbas to negotiate if he wants to avoid unilateral actions



Jason Greenblatt, co-author of the controversial US peace plan, said in an interview with Efe that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should agree soon to negotiate if he wants to avoid unilateral actions.

The one who was until recently a representative of Donald Trump for international negotiations asks not to talk about the controversial annexation of the occupied West Bank – which includes the initiative of the White House and Israel seeks to carry out as soon as possible – and considers that the claims Palestinians are not rights but only aspirations.

When Greenblatt left his post in the Trump Administration last October, the peace proposal “was ready” and today, despite the rejection of Palestinian and many countries, he feels “very proud” of the result and openly questions what until now was An international consensus in this conflict.

QUESTION: Considering that the Palestinians said they would reject the plan since they started working on it, why did they insist on continuing with the proposal?

ANSWER: Well, because I have many young friends, Palestinians and Israelis, who deserve a better future. This conflict has to end at some point. I don’t like a (Palestinian) leadership that discards a plan even before knowing what it includes, before its publication, to destroy the lives of millions of people. And not only from Israelis and Palestinians because a satisfactory conclusion can also help Jordanians, Egyptians, the Gulf region, and that should not depend on stubborn leadership or, worse, terrorist organizations such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Q: Mention that the plan is the basis for negotiation. If Israel unilaterally annexes the part of the West Bank provided for in the plan, what would be left to negotiate?

A: The Palestinian leadership should sit at the table and start negotiating quickly. We gave them four years to do so. We understood that the plan would be difficult for them to accept and we respected it. But, if they don’t access (now), life has to go on. You can’t always say no and expect things to freeze over time, and that’s how we design the plan.

Q: You have expressed that there is no longer an international consensus on the conflict. However, many countries and international organizations rejected the US proposal. and insist on a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders.

A: We do not live here. It does not depend on the United States, Spain or the UN and there is a clear division between countries about this conflict. We could not even get the UN to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization. Is there an international consensus on that? Does consensus matter in this conflict? It is not our task to define the rules or force them to accept a peace plan. The Palestinian leadership continues to make the mistake of thinking that a supposed consensus will facilitate an agreement. And that will not happen. What we can do is encourage both parties to negotiate directly. Anyone who says otherwise is pretending and will generate a new generation of Israelis and Palestinians to live with this conflict, and I think that is tragic.

Q: What do you think about the list published on Wednesday by the UN with 112 companies operating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank?

A: I find it outrageous. They have been working on this list for years and the fact that they choose to publish it right after the presentation of the plan seems embarrassing to me. All they do is move away the possibility of peace, and I would tell my American friends to go and buy double or triple in the companies on that list. The UN has been a terrible place for Israel, very biased, and I think they are doing nothing to help anyone, not the Palestinians or peace, should be ashamed.

Q: Do you think that a future president or Palestinian leader could adopt a different position and negotiate?

A: I do not know. I respect President Abbas as a leader who has the strength and ability to carry out this if he decides to negotiate. Therefore, I do not think beyond Abbas. I met him during the first year I was in the Administration, in 2017. After that they obviously cut ties with us after the decision on Jerusalem (the American recognition as Israeli capital). But I think Abbas has the ability to implement this plan and I would like to see him carry it out.

Q: Did you receive approval from Arab countries on the content of the plan?

A: No, we do not receive any approval from you. We test, ask, investigate, listen, listen a lot, but in the end the plan came from the USA. and it was a decision of our president, Donald Trump.

Q: What are the next steps now after the plan is published?

A: The next thing I would like to see is the Palestinian leaders recognizing that there are many very good things in this plan. If they have problems with him, they have to sit down and make a list of what they would like to change and sit with the Israelis, but throwing it away and returning to their usual rhetoric – which will never lead to peace – would be a waste of time. and a new generation of lost Palestinians.

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