WASHINGTON - Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump's special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority needs "to resume its role in the administration of Gaza," in light of the damage that Hamas has caused to the Gaza Strip. Greenblatt made this statement during a tour of the Israel-Gaza border area together with IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
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Greenblatt said at the conclusion of the tour that "it is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs." This is the first time a senior official of the Trump administration has publicly stated such a policy towards Gaza.
Greenblatt also said that during his tour to the region, he "learned a great deal about the difficult challenges facing the IDF, Israelis living in surrounding areas and the Palestinians living in Gaza as a result of Hamas' mismanagement of humanitarian aid and its commitment to terrorist violence."
He also called on Hamas "to return the IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were taken by Hamas, and I call on Hamas to release the Israeli civilians they are holding - Abera Mengistu, Hisham Shaaban and Gumaa Ibrahim Abu Anima.”
The last two U.S. administrations also called for the PA to return to its administrative role in Gaza, but have failed to make such a change take place on the ground. The Obama administration tried to push for a UN Security Council resolution that would reinstate the PA in Gaza following the 2014 Gaza war, but the effort failed because of Israeli and Palestinian objections. Gaza has been controlled by Hamas ever since a violent coup took place there in 2007.
While Greenblatt is in the Middle East, the Trump administration is facing growing criticism in Washington for failing to outline the end-goal of its negotiations effort. Amid attacks by a number of left-leaning Jewish groups, the administration also received criticism from Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), a veteran Jewish member of Congress, who said she was "gravely concerned" that Trump has not expressed support for a two-state solution to the conflict.
In a statment sent to Haaretz on Tuesday, Lowey explained that "I believe we must work tirelessly to facilitate a two-state solution in the Middle East. It is longstanding U.S. policy that a two-state solution is the only framework that would lead to two states for two people - a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a democratic, Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition. I urge the President to publicly express strong support for a two-state solution and reaffirm the U.S.'s stance on this important position."