Donald Trump‘s lead Middle East peace negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, is leaving the administration, the president says.
Greenblatt had been working toward a Middle East peace agreement alongside Jared Kushner.
The Trump administration’s proposal has been continuously delayed, and now, the former real estate lawyer, who worked at the Trump Organization prior to joining the administration, is returning to the private sector, the president announced on Thursday.
The president broke the news in a tweet. ‘After almost 3 years in my Administration, Jason Greenblatt will be leaving to pursue work in the private sector. Jason has been a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer,’ he wrote.
‘His dedication to Israel and to seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians won’t be forgotten. He will be missed. Thank you Jason!’
Donald Trump’s lead Middle East peace negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, is leaving the administration, the president says
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 14, 2017
Greenblatt is one of the original members of Trump’s inner circle, having worked for him at the Trump Organization prior to joining the administration
It wasn’t immediately clear where Greenblatt would be working next. A White House official said Greenblatt would not be leaving for several weeks
It wasn’t immediately clear where Greenblatt would be working next. His last private sector job was at the Trump Organization, where he rose to the ranks of chief legal officer to the business’ namesake, who he would go on to follow to the White House.
He was one of the last remaining members of Trump’s original inner circle to be working in the administration, and his departure 14 months before the president stands for reelection is the latest piece of evidence that the White House does not expect peace talks to resume anytime soon between Israel and Palestine.
A White House official said Greenblatt would not be leaving immediately and would remain in the position for the next several weeks, until the release of the delayed peace agreement.
The timing suggests a deal will be released by the end of the month, in order for Greenblatt to see it through, but his negotiating skills will not be needed.
Greenblatt’s seemingly abrupt departure puts the prospect of peace agreement in flux once again, after the US embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem halted talks with the Palestinian Authority almost two years ago, at the end of 2017.
The announcement comes less than a month after Trump picked a fight with two Democratic members of Congress seeking to visit Israel, who were denied entry to the nation on Trump’s advice as he waged a war against them.
Trump claims that the women, including the first Palestinian-American to serve in Congress – Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, are anti-Jewish and anti-Israel and must not be allowed to visit the state.
Last month, the removal of the Palestinian Authority from a State Department list of countries and territories in the world further angered officials in the area that seeks to become its own state that is separate from Israel.
Asked about the removal of the territory from the website, the president deferred to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an unusual step in for the presidency in which foreign policy is often established in tweets by Trump and advisers working for him at the White House.
‘He’s working very, very hard on that situation, and very competently,’ the president said. ‘And if you look and see what’s going on with the Palestinians and with Israel, we’d like to see if we can make a deal.’
In this handout picture provided by the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Senior Advisor to US President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as US special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt looks on
Netanyahu meets with Greenblatt in Jerusalem on June 21, 2017 in this handout photo
Trump claimed a peace agreement had been idled, because of the Israeli election and not the actions of his administration.
‘It’s very — it got complicated by the Israeli elections, but we’re going to know who the prime minister is going to be fairly soon. It’s happening along. That was a complicating factor,’ he claimed.
The president said, ‘I think the Palestinians would like to make a deal. As you know, I cut off most funding to the Palestinians — a lot of funding. And I think they’d like to get it back.’
‘Nobody has ever done that before. They used to negotiate paying a fortune of money — $750 million,’ he asserted. ‘They’d pay, pay, pay. And they’d be treated with disrespect, but they’d keep paying. This went on for years. So I don’t believe in that,’ he said.
Trump said it’s his sense that Israel wants a peace accord, as well, seventy years after the nation declared its independence.
‘I think Israel would like to make a deal, too,’ he said. ‘I think people, after so many years and decades, I think they’re a little tired of fighting. Even he gets tired of fighting.’
Trump admitted then that a proposal would not be released before Israel’s national snap election on September 17, scoffing at a reporter’s question about the timeline for the plan and saying, ‘No, of course not.’
‘It won’t be before the election, I don’t think,’ he affirmed during a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Longtime Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he believed the peace plan ‘will be presented to the world after the election’ following Trump’s announcement at the G7 summit.
Greenblatt confirmed that the proposal would not be released in its entirety until after the Israeli election in an Aug. 28 tweet, two days after the president’s remarks.
‘We have decided that we will not be releasing the peace vision (or parts of it) prior to the Israeli election,’ Greenblatt said.
The same day as Trump’s remarks, the Palestinian Authority lashed out at the Republican president’s administration for the State Department’s website redesign.
Mahmoud Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh referred to an ‘unprecedented decline in American foreign policy’ in a statement on state-run media site.
He also accused the U.S. of ‘hopeless attempts to erase the Palestinian issue and the people’ and reminded Trump ‘that there will be no peace, security and stability in the region without the establishment of a Palestinian state along June 4, 1967, borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.’
TRUMP’S HIGH-PROFILE DEPARTURE LOUNGE
Here are just some of the top officials who have left Trump’s administration and when their departures were announced
Inauguration Day was January 20
January 31: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates
February 13: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
March 30: Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh
April 9: Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland
May 9: FBI Director James Comey
May 30: Communications Director Michael Dubke
July 21: Press Secretary Sean Spicer
July 28: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus
July 31: Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci
August 18: Chief Strategist Steve Bannon
August 25: National security aide Sebastian Gorka
September 1: Director of Oval Office Operations Keith Schiller
September 29: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price
December 8: Deputy National Security adviser Dina Powell
December 13: Communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault Newman
February 7: Staff Secretary Rob Porter
February 28: Communications Director Hope Hicks
March 6: Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn
March 12: Special assistant and personal aide to the president John McEntee
March 13: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
March 22: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster
March 28: Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin
April 10: Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert
April 11: Deputy National Security Adviser Nadia Schadlow
April 12: Deputy National Security adviser Ricky Waddell
May 2: White House attorney Ty Cobb
June 5: Communications aide Kelly Sadler
July 5: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt
August 29: White House Counsel Don McGahn
October 9: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley
November 7: Attorney General Jeff Sessions
December 9: Chief of Staff John Kelly
December 15: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
December 20: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
March 8: Communications Director Bill Shine
April 8: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
June 13: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
June 18: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan
June 25: Acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner John Sanders
July 12: Labor Secretary Alex Acosta
July 28: Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats
August 6: Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman
August 8: Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Sue Gordon
August 29: President’s personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout
September 5: Lead Middle East peace negotiator, Jason Greenblatt