Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Middle East, will leave office in a couple weeks, numerous sources in the US administration have said.
Greenblatt, who had intended to stay only two years when he began working at the White House in early 2017, is eager to return to his wife and six children who stayed behind at their home in New Jersey, the officials said.
Greenblatt and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, as well as the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, have led the effort to develop what they have pushed as a peace plan for the Israel-Palestine conflict dubbed the “deal of the century”.
Greenblatt’s departure comes amid repeated delays of the release of the Trump administration’s peace plan. Instability in the Israeli political arena has made releasing the full terms of the deal difficult. In an unprecedented turn, Israelis are heading to the polls for the second time in a year after incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government in April.
Whether Trump releases the plan immediately after the election or he waits until a governing coalition is formed, a process that could take weeks, remains unclear.
The Palestinian Authority has boycotted the US peace effort since December 2017 when Trump decided to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Greenblatt will hand over much of his Middle East responsibilities to Kushner aide Avi Berkowitz, Reuters reported. Brian Hook, the leader of the State Department’s Iran team, will take on an increased role, a senior administration official said.
Greenblatt has been a player in all of Trump’s moves aimed at bolstering US support for Israel, such as the US recognition of both Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Kushner, in a statement, said Greenblatt “has done a tremendous job leading the efforts to develop an economic and political vision for a long sought after peace in the Middle East.”
“His work has helped develop the relationships between Israel and its neighbours as he is trusted and respected by all of the leaders throughout the region. He is a close friend and partner and will continue to make a positive impact on the world,” he said.