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Trump Middle East envoy to resign after peace plan announced

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Middle East peace, plans to resign once the long-awaited US peace plan for the Palestinians and Israelis is announced, officials said on Thursday.

Greenblatt, who planned to stay for only two years at the White House when he began work in early 2017, is looking forward to returning to his wife and six children who stayed at their home in New Jersey, the officials said.

Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman led efforts to come up with a peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians and spent Trump’s entire term working on it.

Trump called the plan a “deal of the century” but Palestinians are deeply skeptical of the Republican president’s plan to resolve one of the world’s toughest diplomatic and political disputes.

Trump described Greenblatt as a “friend, great, great lawyer” and said he would leave the job to pursue his work in the private sector. “We will not forget his dedication to Israel and to the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said on Twitter.

The White House has so far announced a $ 50 billion economic development plan for Palestinians and neighboring countries but has yet to announce proposals for resolving the most difficult political problems in the conflict, such as the status of Jerusalem.

US officials said the political plan was now complete and would be announced in due course. Trump said he would announce it after elections in Israel on September 17, a vote that would determine the political fate of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of Trump.

It is unclear whether Trump will announce the plan immediately after the election or wait for a ruling coalition, which could take weeks.

– Palestinian boycott –

The Palestinian Authority has boycotted US peace efforts since late 2017 when Trump decided to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he recognized as Israel’s capital, in violation of decades-old US policy.

The Palestinian Authority declined to comment on Greenblatt’s resignation after the plan was announced.

“Greenblatt’s resignation is proof of his failure because he did not follow the rules of the peace process and harmed the credibility of the United States,” a Palestinian official in Ramallah told Reuters. “International law and international legitimacy are the basis for the success of any peace efforts.”

The political details of the plan were kept secret and Kushner did not even say whether it would offer the Palestinians an independent state.

Greenblatt will hand over most of his Middle East responsibilities to Kushner’s assistant, Avi Berkowitz. A senior administration official said Brian Hook, who leads the State Department team on Iran, would play a bigger role.

Hook accompanied Greenblatt and Kushner during visits to the area. In a statement in July, Greenblatt and Hawk said Tehran had exploited the conflict in the Middle East for decades by supporting Palestinian militant groups.

Greenblatt, a former Trump lawyer, said in a statement that he was grateful for being part of a team working on a “vision for peace”.

“That vision has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of millions of Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region.”

Greenblatt has played a role in all of Trump’s steps to bolster US support for Israel, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Many Arabs view the US peace plan with skepticism, expecting it to be biased in favor of Israel. The US team said the plan would require Israel to make concessions.

Kouchner said in a statement that Greenblatt “has done a remarkable job in leading the efforts to come up with an economic and political vision for long-sought Middle East peace.”

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