(September 4, 2018 / JNS) Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is demanding that U.S. special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt be replaced as peace mediator because of his bias in favor of Israel, a senior P.A. official and close associate of Abbas told Israel Hayom.
The official said Abbas was demanding Greenblatt’s ouster before he would agree to resume the peace process, aimed at resolving the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The revelation comes on the heels of an opinion piece by Greenblatt published in Hebrew in Israel Hayom on Monday, in which he declared that U.S. President Donald Trump wanted this to be a “year of peace.”
“What appeared impossible only a few years ago is now possible,” Greenblatt wrote, adding that a peace deal depended on willingness by both the Israelis and Palestinians to make difficult decisions for a lasting peace.
Greenblatt said as of print time, the Palestinian leadership was “refusing to cooperate,” and called the Palestinian recalcitrance “disappointing.” He also accused the Palestinian leadership of harming the Palestinian people.
“Greenblatt’s piece in Israel Hayom clarifies the biased stance of the U.S. administration and Greenblatt himself in favor of Israel, and total rejection of the Palestinians’ legitimate demands,” the official told the paper on Monday.
The official, like other P.A. administration figures in Ramallah, said that Abbas has recently been in secret contact with the Trump administration about the framework in which the Palestinians might return to the negotiating table and withdraw their boycott of the American administration. One of the Palestinians’ main demands is that Greenblatt be replaced by an “objective” go-between, said the official.
Another Abbas associate told Israel Hayom that a delegation of American defense officials had recently arrived in the West Bank and held a series of meetings with senior P.A. officials.
In addition, the official said, Abbas has recently dispatched a P.A. delegation to Washington, which echoed the demand to replace Greenblatt.
“Despite Greenblatt’s attempt to present the position of the [Trump] administration and himself as a fair and objective mediator, we aren’t buying it,” said the official. “This is nothing but hypocrisy.”