U.S. Envoy Greenblatt Visits Israel, Will Meet With Gantz and Netanyahu on Friday

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

Outgoing U.S. envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt arrived in Israel on Thursday to hold "discussions with various parties regarding the US-Israel relationship, regional dynamics and the Administration’s peace efforts,” a U.S. Embassy official said.

Earlier, Channel 13 News reported that Greenblatt is expected to arrive in Israel on Thursday amid negotiations over a unity government in the wake of Israel's election. 

Greenblatt is expected to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, and discuss the American administration's Middle East peace plan. The envoy is also slated to attend private events.

Netanyahu's spokesperson confirmed to Haaretz that the meeting with Greenblatt will take place and is set for Friday. Meanwhile, Gantz's spokesperson stated that "he would be happy to meet with any representative of the American administration when such an invitation is extended."

>> Read more: Israel election results: Live updatesThe road not taken: The dilemma facing Trump's mideast peace team

Israeli officials added that 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 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."

Hours before Greenblatt is set to arrive, efforts are still underway to compose a unity government. Netanyahu has called on Gantz "to collaborate like Shamir and Peres" (two Israeli prime ministers who formed a unity government with a rotating premiereship in 1984) in order to "bring Israel to safety."

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