Trump Envoy Jason Greenblatt Returning to Israel Monday for Further Talks With Netanyahu, Abbas

Trump's special envoy to Mideast peace process making his sixth visit to region in six months as Trump mulls next move

U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 20, 2017.
U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, left, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, June 20, 2017. Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv

U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Jason Greenblatt, will arrive in Israel on Monday. It will be his sixth visit to the region since assuming office in January.

Israeli and U.S. 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 Jared Kushner – the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

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.”

The official added that the main reason for Greenblatt’s visit is to meet with the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

The schedule hasn’t been fully finalized, but Greenblatt is expected to stay until Wednesday, when he will meet Netanyahu. A date for his meeting with Abbas has yet to be set.

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.

Two other events on Wednesday could also impact on Greenblatt’s visit: the Israeli security cabinet will discuss a plan to approve the construction of thousands of housing units for Palestinians in the West Bank city of Qalqilyah. 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.

Also Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hold a hearing on the Taylor Force Act – legislation that proposes cutting all U.S. funding to the PA while it continues to make payments to the families of convicted terrorists.

The main witness will be Elliott Abrams, a former senior Middle East adviser in the George W. Bush administration, and who supports the proposed legislation.

The issue of the Palestinian payments has become a major stumbling block in the Trump administration’s attempts to restart the peace process.