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Trump Envoy: What Settlements? What Occupation?


In the wake of the Bahrain conference on the economic phase of the Trump administration’s purported peace plan, the PBS Newshour aired Judy Woodruff’s interview with Pres. Trump’s special envoy, Jason Greenblatt.  Although more diplomatic in tone than the current US ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, Greenblatt is cut from the same pro-settlements cloth as the ambassador.  This is an excerpt on the political issues they discussed: 

  • Judy Woodruff:

  Is there still a possibility of a two-state solution here?

  • Jason Greenblatt:

    The reason we don’t use that term is, you can’t take a complex — a conflict as complex as this and boil it down to those three words.

    So we have avoided the slogan, if you will. But the 60-page plan will address everything, including that question. And we have very carefully designed this plan to give everybody as much freedom as possible, but without compromising on security for anybody.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let me come back to the Israelis.

    What responsibility do the Israelis bear for the current state of affairs in the Middle East?

  • Jason Greenblatt:

    I think that Israel is actually more the victim than the party that’s responsible.

    From the moment of its formation, they were attacked multiple times. They continue to be attacked with terrorism. So — I’m not sure I understand the premise of the question.

    I think that they’re trying their best to succeed. They have actually succeeded in many ways, especially economically, under very, very trying circumstances.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So you don’t — you don’t see mistakes they have made, places where they have overstepped their authority?

  • Jason Greenblatt:

    Nobody’s perfect, right?

    I can’t think of single instances. But I think even our great country has made mistakes over the years. And, over time, you try to correct those mistakes. But I think Israel is doing the best that it possibly can under very challenging circumstances.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As you know, Prime Minister Netanyahu has floated the idea of annexing the West Bank settlements. Is this something the United States could support?

  • Jason Greenblatt:

    I don’t even like the word settlements. I think it’s a pejorative term. I use the term neighborhoods and cities.

    But I’m not going to get into a political discussion. I don’t do it with President Abbas when he talks about his talking points, ’67 borders and all that. Let’s wait until we show the political plan.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Some people do believe Israel is headed toward a one-state, quasi — a one-state.

  • Jason Greenblatt:

    I’m not sure that there are many people that think that a one-state is good for either side.

    Our plan does not contemplate one state. I think, if it did, we would have released it over two years ago.

    But I think that one of the challenges of this file, as people speak about the West Bank, Judea and Samaria as being occupied, I would argue that the land is disputed. It needs to be resolved in the context of direct negotiations between the parties. Calling it occupied territory does not help resolve the conflict.

Click here for the full transcript, video and audio recordings of this PBS Newshour segment.

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