After Meeting Netanyahu, U.S. Envoy Greenblatt Expected to Meet Benny Gantz

Israeli officials say Greenblatt is not set to unveil the Trump peace plan, but 'to continue to look into' when the best timing would be to do so

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U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem, September 20, 2019
U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem, September 20, 2019Credit: Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Outgoing U.S. envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, amid negotiations over a unity government in the wake of Israel's election. 

Also in attendance were U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer. Neither Netanyahu nor Greenblatt delivered public remarks following the meeting. 

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz's bureau confirmed that the U.S. Embassy had contacted it to set a meeting between Greenblatt and the former army chief of staff during the former's visit to Israel, adding that "the time of meeting will be agreed upon later."

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Following the meeting Greenblatt tweeted: "Honored to meet today with Prime Minister Netanyahu. We discussed the incredibly strong U.S.-Israel relationship, regional issues and the peace effort."

A U.S. Embassy official said Thursday that Greenblatt was in Israel to hold "discussions with various parties regarding the U.S.-Israel relationship, regional dynamics and the Administration’s peace efforts.”

From left to right: David Friedman, Jason Greenblatt, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ron Dermer, in a meeting at the PM's residence in Jerusalem, September 20, 2019Credit: Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Israeli officials said the purpose of Greenblatt's visit isn't to publish the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has been working on, but rather "to continue to look into" when would be the best timing to unveil it.

In early September Greenblatt announced his resignation, which will go into effect in the coming weeks, after his two-and-a-half-year tenure. The Trump administration has stressed that Greenblatt's departure will not impact intentions to release its peace plan after Israel's election.

In recent weeks, as part of his election campaign, Netanyahu repeatedly reiterated that Trump's plan will be presented immediately after the election and would pose a "challenge" to Israel.

Netanyahu used this as a justification for his declaration that he would annex the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea, should he be reelected, as well as the move to green light a West Bank settlement days before the election. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit had objected to Netanyahu's recognition of the settlement close to Jericho, but walked back his objection after he said that he was presented with important details concerning the peace plan.

"President Trump said that after the election he will present his peace plan, immediately after the election, even several days after the election, and it's right around the corner. This poses a big challenge to us and it also presents us with a big opportunity. It will be a historic opportunity, a rare window of opportunity to apply Israeli sovereignty on our communities in Judea and Samaria as well as on communities that are important to our tradition and future," Netanyahu said during his annexation declaration last week.

"The important question facing us in this election is who will handle the negotiations with Trump, who will enlist him to our cause, who will be the next prime minister of Israel — myself or Gantz and Lapid. Gantz and Lapid said that they would uproot 80,000 settlers. With me, no one will get uprooted," Netanyahu added. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Netanyahu and Greenblatt in Jerusalem, May 30, 2019.Credit: Mati Shtern/ U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem