On his first visit to the Middle East, Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt surprises everyone
Greenblatt leaped effortlessly from a Palestinian refugee camp to meeting settler leaders, making positive impressions on all, along with a clear message: Trump’s serious about peace, and Israel ought to be too.
Barak Ravid Mar 17, 2017
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Jason Greenblatt’s Twitter account was the best show in town this week. Anyone following his tweets might have thought he wasn’t the U.S. envoy for the peace process, but the Energizer bunny.
Greenblatt didn’t rest for a moment during his four days here. He bounced from Jerusalem, to Ramallah, to Jericho, to Bethlehem, to Amman and back to Jerusalem. After every meeting, he tweeted pictures and updates.
On the eve of his visit, the New York Times published an article describing him scornfully as a man with no diplomatic experience who landed his job almost by chance. But Greenblatt proved this week that even if he lacks the experience of veterans of the peace industry in America, he is blessed with sharp instincts, seriousness, common sense and a great deal of personal charm and emotional intelligence. Everyone on the Israeli side who met with Greenblatt this week, on both the right and the left, as well as everyone on the Palestinian side, had a positive impression.
“Greenblatt is a serious, honest envoy,” tweeted MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) after meeting him. “There’s no doubt President Trump is committed to peace, and that’s good news. It won’t be easy – but there’s hope.”
On his first visit to the region as Trump’s envoy, Greenblatt came mainly to listen and learn. Alongside his meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he held a great many meetings with segments of the population that until now most U.S. envoys had passed over.
He surprised many on the Palestinian side by meeting with residents of the Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah, and surprised others on the Israeli side by meeting with two mayors of settlements, Oded Revivi and Yossi Dagan. He met with Palestinian and Israeli students, with residents of the Gaza Strip, with senior Jewish, Christian and Muslim clerics.
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Wednesday night, Greenblatt took a tour of Jerusalem’s Old City. One stop on the tour was Yeshivat HaKotel, from which he tweeted a picture of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Five minutes later, he visited the house of a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem and tweeted a picture of the same holy sites from a different angle.
“Peace and coexistence are not just possible in this extraordinary city, they exist already and have for centuries,” he added in a follow-up tweet.
The message Greenblatt reiterated against and again, to both Israelis and Palestinians, was that President Donald Trump is very serious when he talks about his desire to make “the ultimate deal” and that Israeli-Palestinian peace is very high on his priority list. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said after meeting with Greenblatt that he got the impression Trump was very committed to this issue and plans to launch a serious diplomatic process. A senior minister in the ruling Likud party got the same impression.