Trump's Peace Envoy Greenblatt: Gaza's Future Can't Be Addressed Until Hamas Is Out of the Picture

In a New York Times op-ed, Jason Greenblatt justifies Israeli blockade on the Strip by pointing out Hamas' decision to 'divert supplies to build infrastructure for war'

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Haaretz

Palestinians walk on concrete blocks at the seaport of Gaza City April 2, 2019.
Palestinians walk on concrete blocks at the seaport of Gaza City April 2, 2019. Credit: \ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS
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Haaretz

U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt pinned the blame for the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip on Hamas in a sharply-worded op-ed published in the New York Times on Tuesday.

"Hamas has driven the people of Gaza into lives of misery in a bid to stay in power," wrote Greenblatt, adding that as long as the group doesn't renounce violence and recognize Israel, the United States cannot "fix" the situation.

"Each new attack on Israeli communities forces Israel to adopt more restrictive measures on imports to Gaza," Greenblatt wrote, explaining that Israel's 12-year land, air and sea blockade on the Strip's population of 1.9 million is due to Hamas "diverting supplies to build infrastructure for war instead of schools and hospitals."

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 24Credit: Haaretz

>> Read more: Israel and Hamas seal deal, but turning back on Abbas could come at a price | Amos Harel ■ Hamas deserves blame, but not for Gaza’s economic crisis | Opinion ■ Iran is declaring war on Israel – from Gaza | Opinion

Greenblatt wrote that Israel is not responsible for the crisis in Gaza, and as an example, noted that "Arabs in Israel generally live normal lives."

Greenblatt added that Palestinians in the West Bank are progressing in stable cities and communities, while the people of Gaza have been left behind because of choices made by Hamas.

Referring to the long-anticipated American peace plan, Greenblatt wrote: "We need to be realistic. Whether or not we achieve a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, the future of Gaza cannot be addressed and the people of Gaza cannot be helped in any meaningful way until Hamas is no longer in the picture or makes the necessary choices for stability and, eventually, peace."

The American plan is expected to be unveiled once Israel's newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms a government coalition and after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in June.

Trump Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, September 9, 2017Credit: Matty Stern / U.S.Embassy Tel Av

Last week, Greenblatt said that the plan will not involve giving land from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula to a Palestinian territory in Gaza. It was also reported that the plan will not include an independent Palestinian state.

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the peace plan in an address to the Arab League in Cairo. He demanded that Israel fully withdraw from all occupied territories and called on Arab states, considered key partners in a future agreement, to be "engaged actively at this critical time."

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