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Greenblatt Asks ‘Deep Questions’ in Attempt to End Palestinian-Israeli Conflict | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, in Ramallah on March 14, 2017. (AFP)

Tel Aviv – US President Donald Trump’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations has started to tackle the “deep questions” aimed at reaching a final settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, said prominent political sources on Monday.

These are part of Jason Greenblatt’s efforts to make progress with Israelis to “rid the Palestinians of economic restrictions.”

The sources said that Greenblatt had asked the two sides to make specific stances over fundamental and central issues related to the permanent solution. They include positions on the border, security, Jerusalem and refugees.

The sources quoted him as saying that Trump is serious in launching negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The envoy had returned to the region on Thursday, two days after Trump’s departure from an official visit he made to Israel where he held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Greenblatt kicked off a round of talks in Jerusalem in the West Bank and in Ramallah. He met with Netanyahu and later Abbas, as well as senior Israeli figures.

The sources said that regional economic initiatives in partnership with Israel and the Palestinian Authority took up a large part of the discussions.

Meanwhile, it appears that the Israeli government is attempting to lift the legitimacy off Abbas, claiming that he is leading an incitement campaign against Israelis and the Jews. The government handed Trump’s aides a thick file showing the alleged incitement in the Palestinian media.

It also included the Palestinian leader’s statements of support to the Palestinian prisoners, whom Israel considers as terrorists and murderers.

Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Monday night an American source as saying that Trump had accused Abbas last week of “deceiving him”.

The source, who was deemed as informed on last week’s Trump-Abbas meeting, added that the US president told his Palestinian counterpart that the Israelis have proven to him that he was personally involved in incitement against them.

Palestinian sources said that Abbas replied to Trump by saying that the Palestinian people do not need to be incited because the “occupation is the greatest inciter.”

At this point, Trump told Abbas that his administration will act differently than its predecessor. He said that he wants to push for new ideas, starting with a regional plan based on the Arab peace initiative.

For his part, Abbas warned Trump against being deceived by Netanyahu, who wants to “shy away from peace process demands by bringing up incitement and others issues.”