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Israeli Defense Minister Receives Greenblatt with Doubts about Reaching Peace Deal | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, in Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (US Embassy)

Tel Aviv – Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged the US President’s Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt on Monday to give up seeking a bilateral peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The Trump administration should abandon its pursuit of a comprehensive, bilateral peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and instead focus on securing regional peace between the Jewish state and the wider Arab world,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman spoke as Greenblatt, along with the senior advisor of US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, arrived in the region for a fresh round of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaderships.

“Since 1993, several Israeli governments have attempted to achieve peace with the Palestinians based on bilateral agreements, but they failed,” said the Israeli Minister.

Giving examples of the obstacles Palestinians have allegedly put in the way of peace efforts, Lieberman said that the Palestinian leadership refused to condemn the recent murder of an Israeli police officer.

In addition to this, they have promoted a series of hostile resolutions against Israel at the UN.

“With such intentions, I doubt whether we can advance anything, let alone a historic or far-reaching agreement,” Lieberman added.

Israeli and US officials said Greenblatt is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the visit, as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to discuss ways to relaunch the peace process.

Greenblatt is arriving three weeks after his previous visit, in which he was accompanied by Kushner.

Kushner met with Netanyahu and Abbas to understand the gaps between the two sides and bring back recommendations to Trump on how to move things forward.

In the coming weeks, Trump is expected to discuss the next steps on the Israeli-Palestinian issue with his senior advisers and the cabinet.

A White House official said Sunday: “This trip is an interim visit as talks continue about potential next steps. President Trump has made it clear that working toward achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is a top priority for him.”

On the same day Greenblatt meets Netanyahu, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will meet with Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon in Jerusalem to discuss ways to improve the economic situation in the West Bank.

The Israeli security cabinet’s discussion of a plan to approve the construction of thousands of housing units for Palestinians in the West Bank city of Qalqilyah will likely impact Greenblatt’s visit.

This plan was already approved by the security cabinet last year, but Netanyahu decided to bring it up for another discussion after he was criticized by right-wing lawmakers and even some ministers who were present at the original vote last year.