‘LEADERS OF PALESTINE SHOULD DO MORE FOR THE PEOPLE’
Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt lays out ideas for ‘economic opportunities’
The Palestinian leadership is letting down its people by obstructing economic progress and stifling opportunity for fear that they will lose interest in the cause of self-determination, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy writes exclusively for The National.
Jason Greenblatt has worked for 22 months on the US leader’s peace plan to strike the “impossible deal” and end the decades-long conflict and, with those efforts, he is calling for a marked improvement in the lives of Palestinians to be led by their own politicians.
“Palestinians deserve more from their leadership than political statements and bargaining positions. While waiting for a possible political solution, it is high time to build the Palestinian economy and provide Palestinians with the opportunities they deserve,” he writes.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians, many labourers, travel to work in Israel every day, but Mr Trump’s top envoy in the region suggests many could be working for some of the world’s biggest tech companies if the Palestinian leadership and residents of the West Bank weakened their staunch anti-Israel positions because of the occupation that has been in place since 1967.
“The Palestinian leadership has barricaded their people from those opportunities. The Palestinian economy needs initiatives now without deterring from Palestinians’ political aspirations,” he says. “Anti-normalisation is a failed policy that only hurts the Palestinians.”
The US envoy risks further stoking Palestinian anger over the accusations that the leadership is standing in the way of economic progress.
Officials in Ramallah maintain that it is Israel’s military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and its settlement enterprise in both territories, that is the biggest obstacle to Palestinian prosperity. The Israeli military restricts Palestinian movement with numerous checkpoints, hindering movement for work, rights groups say. There are also about 400,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank who live in their own outposts under Israeli law and receive state funding. Palestinians say the network of outposts is a deliberate attempt to prevent the contiguity of any future Palestinian state.
Mr Greenblatt’s comments come as relations between Washington and Ramallah are at their lowest ebb.
The Palestinian Authority, which presides over parts of the West Bank and is led by President Mahmoud Abbas, cut all ties to the US administration after Mr Trump moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively recognising the city as Israel’s capital.
Other decisions the US administration said were taken to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table have only further alienated them. Washington cut all aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, slashed funding for East Jerusalem hospitals that serve sick Palestinians and closed the Palestinian mission in Washington.
Yet Mr Greenblatt now puts the onus on the PA in the West Bank to open up the Palestinian economy for the good of its people instead of adopting positions that have failed to bring peace with the country that occupies the territory in question.