Middle East Peace Envoy Resigns

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Jason Greenblatt is leaving his post as President Trump’s special envoy for the Middle East. The administration has delayed the release of its peace plan, and it’s unclear when the public is going to get to see it. Aaron David Miller has participated in several rounds of peace negotiations for the U.S. government, serving both Republican and Democratic administrations. He’s now at the Wilson Center.

Good morning, sir.

AARON DAVID MILLER: Good morning, Noel.

KING: So do you know why Mr. Greenblatt resigned?

MILLER: I’m prepared to accept the stated reason – personal family relations. I’ve done this for 20 years. I can’t tell you how many birthdays, anniversaries and family time I’ve missed. It’s possible, of course, that there were tensions or difficulties or disagreements within the team. But, by and large, I don’t think this is much of a mystery. The odds that this could succeed, I think, were fairly slim to none. And I think Mr. Greenblatt made a judgment that getting out of dodge before the shooting starts, actually, was probably the right thing to do for his own needs and requirements.

KING: May I ask, what do you mean by before the shooting starts?

MILLER: Well, look. If you work on a peace plan that purports to be 60 pages long, and one of the prime architects of the entire process decides to announce that he’s leaving before what I call the day after, which is when this plan is actually presented, when the real work begins – selling the plan, defending it, trying to get the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table in order to make this thing work. If you’re pulling out then before any of this transpires then I think it sends a pretty strong signal that the prospects of getting this off the ground were dubious at best, even to one of the key architects of the Trump administration peace process.

KING: That’s interesting. Do you expect to see the Trump administration’s peace plan anytime soon?

MILLER: You know, as I said, I’ve done this for 20 years. The degree of radioactive – of radio silence that surrounds this process is extraordinary. We never have – under any administration, Republican or Democrat – has a 60 to 80-page plan, the details of which have been kept. Usually, there are leaks, there are indications of where this is going. There’ve been some of that.

So there’s a big debate among the so-called peace process experts whether or not this thing would actually come out. I’ve met with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt. It’s clear that Mr. Kushner believes his father-in-law wants a peace plan. They have one. And I suspect parts of it, if not the whole thing, will actually come out. Yes, I do.

KING: Can you share with us, do you have any idea what’s in the peace plan?

MILLER: I don’t. And I think I’d be wrong to mislead. I would only say to you that the administration’s real objective, it seems to me – because I think everyone on this team understands that the prospects of getting this Israeli government, let alone one in the throes of post-election coalition formation on September 17 and this Palestinian authority have about zero prospects of sitting down, let alone to resolve the core issues that divide them. My concern – been this from the beginning – is that they are trying to redefine the American approach to the negotiation on statehood on Jerusalem and on the issue of Palestinian refugees.

And that’s really the objective here. It’s less important that they get to the negotiation, more important that they lay down a new paradigm that might make a two-state solution simply not achievable.

KING: Aaron David Miller is a distinguished scholar at the Wilson Center, a longtime Mideast peace negotiator.

Thanks so much.

MILLER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAMMAL HANDS’ “BECOMING”) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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