Greenblatt says only direct talks can solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Trump envoy says only direct talks can solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict
3 min read
24 July, 2019
Greenblatt put the United States at odds with other council members by insisting that UN resolutions and international law were not the answer.
Greenblatt said a solution "cannot be forced on the parties" [Getty]

President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt told the United Nations Security Council Tuesday that an "international consensus" cannot solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only direct talks between the two.

Greenblatt, who is working with White House advisor Jared Kushner on a controversial peace plan, put the United States at odds with other council members by insisting that UN resolutions and international law were not the answer.

"This conflict will not end on the basis of an 'international consensus' about who is right and who is wrong, about who should give up X and who should give up Y," he said.

"A comprehensive and lasting peace will not be created by fiat of international law or by these heavily wordsmithed, unclear resolutions," Greenblatt added.

Greenblatt and Kushner are due to return to the Middle East later this month as they push their two-fold economic and political plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The trip will come around a month after Kushner convened an economic workshop in Bahrain that dangled the prospect of $50 billion in investment under a peace deal.

The Palestinian Authority boycotted the "Peace to Prosperity" workshop, accusing the unabashedly pro-Israel Trump of using the prospect of cash to try to impose political solutions, and of ignoring the fundamental issue of Israeli occupation.

Greenblatt said at Tuesday's Security Council meeting that Trump hoped to take a decision soon on when to release his administration's plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The vision for peace that we plan to present will not be ambiguous, unlike many resolutions that have passed in this chamber," he said.

Several council members emphasised the importance of UN resolutions during Tuesday's meeting.

British representative Karen Pierce said all countries "have a responsibility" to implement them, while German ambassador Christoph Heusgen reiterated his country's commitment to a negotiated two-state solution based on the internationally agreed parameters "as the only viable solution" to the conflict.

Greenblatt said a solution "cannot be forced on the parties."

"Let's be honest with ourselves, and the parties, and the region, that the only way ahead is direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," he added.

The Palestinian leadership, which has boycotted the White House over a series of pro-Israeli moves including recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, insists a political solution to the conflict with Israel must come before economic issues.

Trump has cut aid and political support to the Palestinians. Critics say that shows his administration's pro-Israel bias. The US has also refused to endorse a two-state solution that is long been seen as the only viable path to peace.

On 25 June, Kushner claimed that his Middle East peace plan was the "opportunity of the century" for Palestinians but that their acceptance was a "pre-condition" for peace.

His itinerary is being worked out.

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