Trump appoints ex-Israeli settler to oversee peace process

US Politics
on 25 Comments

Jason Greenblatt, the 49-year-old real estate attorney representing Donald Trump’s business conglomerate—serving as the executive vice president and chief legal officer for The Trump Organization since 1997—has recently been named special representative for international negotiations. A source told CNN that this role will mean that “Greenblatt will primarily will be working on Israel-Palestinian peace process, the American relationship with Cuba and trade agreements.”

Greenblatt is another staunchly pro-Israel voice joining the President-elect’s administration and according to The Forward may be the first leading adviser on Israel to a US President that’s done guard duty at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank while “armed with an M-16 assault weapon.” While Greenblatt supports a two-state solution, he believes that the withdrawal from Gaza was the forerunner to the rise of Hamas, as well as the following wars. The real estate attorney who will become America’s leading man on Israel once studied at a religious school in the West Bank settlement of Alon Shuvot, and is the author of a tourist guide on family holidays in Israel.

Greenblatt’s political ideology concerning Israel is the same as Trump’s, and the businessman turned president has deferred to him for policy decisions on Israel. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 1 News, Greenblatt suggests that Donald Trump will “try” to work towards a two-state solution, and that the Trump administration will be a friend to Israel and of Benjamin Netanyahu who he says he hopes we’ll see in the White House. “[Trump] has gone on record to say that the settlements in the West Bank can stay…I personally believe that they should stay. I don’t believe that they’re an obstacle to peace and the whole Gaza situation proves that,” Greenblatt says.

Greenblatt had been serving as Co-Chairman of the Israel Advisory Committee for the Trump campaign, along with David Friedman who the president-elect has been tapped at the next U.S. ambassador to Israel. Trump’s platform on Israel, released in November, reveals a single-minded view of the occupation devoted to further strengthening the already hyper-militaristic relationship between the US and Israel. The policy statement notes in part that a Trump administration will “ensure that Israel receives maximum military, strategic and tactical cooperation from the United States, and the [Memorandum of Understanding] will not limit the support that we give.”

The first Memorandum of Understanding [MOU], signed in 1981, was directed at confronting “Soviet threats in the Middle East”, with the objective of enhancing strategic cooperation between the US and Israel. The latest MOU was signed in September, guaranteeing a security package for Israel that would entail $38 billion over 10 years, and would include missile defense systems, and fighter jets.

On the United Nations, Greenblatt and his co-chairman David Friedman argue that the US should “veto any United Nations votes that unfairly single out Israel”, and that a Trump administration will work to “oppose any efforts to delegitimize Israel, impose discriminatory double standards against Israel, or to impose special labeling requirements on Israeli products or boycotts on Israeli goods.”

Among the other nationalistic flourishes that bleed through the platform statement, Israel as the “state of the Jewish people” is arguably the central refrain, as is the call to continue to provide Israel will military aid, and all else that it may need in order to ‘defend itself’. “The Palestinians” are only mentioned in order to scold them for what they call ‘attempts to avoid having to commit to a peaceful coexistence’—the main “attempt” in this case is the BDS movement. “The false notion that Israel is an occupier should be rejected [by the Palestinians],” the statement reads.

According to Arutz Sheva, Trump’s administration is shaping up to be one of the most pro-Israel that has been seen ‘in a generation’, and an overwhelming number of Israeli’s—83% according to a recent poll—are confident that his administration will work in Israel’s best interest. A report by the Jewish Journal notes that before the 2012 US elections 47% of Israelis considered the Obama administration to be “pro-Palestinian”, and only 21% said they thought it was “pro-Israeli”. Fast forward to 2015 and that number crashed: only 9% of those polled said that the current administration is “pro-Israeli” while 60% said it was “pro-Palestinian”. With Greenblatt joining Trump’s administration there’s no doubt that any policies decisions made will work in Israel’s favor, as they’ve said just as much.

About Roqayah Chamseddine

Roqayah Chamseddine is a Lebanese-American writer based in Sydney. She writes the Sharp Edges column at Shadowproof and politics at Paste Magazine. She tweets at @roqchams.

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25 Responses

  1. AddictionMyth
    December 25, 2016, 11:22 am

    Trump’s strategy will backfire terribly. Why? Because first of all, his supporters despise Israel and will be forced either to defend it or to denounce their dear leader on this issue. Humiliating! Secondly, the tide is turning against Israel, and we’ve seen the end of the usual bipartisan displays of pro-Israel shock and disappointment at the UN vote. (Can you imagine Keith Ellison chiming in?) Finally, Nikki Haley is a wild card. They no doubt thought she was an Israel shill and could be easily manipulated to vote as they please. But I think she is independent, stubborn, principled, and unafraid – a dangerously unpredictable (and promising) combination.

    • broadside
      December 25, 2016, 5:19 pm

      Not sure Nikki Haley is the wild card you think she is. Governor Tarkin might say: I think you overestimate her chances.

    • Leahj
      December 27, 2016, 8:02 am

      Hi AddictionMyth, Hope is a wonderful thing, but this was one of the headlines on Democracy Now, 11-28-’16.

      ” Last year, Haley became the first governor to sign legislation against the BDS, or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, an international campaign to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights.”

    • Leahj
      December 27, 2016, 9:32 am

      Nikki Haley also said that were her party to control the White House, “we would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around.”

  2. sulai
    December 25, 2016, 11:54 am

    I wouldn’t put it past hardcore trump supporters, if the opportunity comes to hate an other, especially in the form of Muslims, they will be willing to put off their hate of Israeli influence on their government for a while

  3. Citizen
    December 25, 2016, 12:29 pm

    Where is the source for the claim Trump supporters despise Israel? I remember when Trump first spoke in public about the I-P conflict while on his campaign to be POTUS. He said he would take a neutral broker stance. But then he read off his son-in-law’s script at AIPAC and he’s been in the Likud camp ever since.

    • John O
      December 25, 2016, 12:52 pm

      Mahmoud Abbas should ask Trump, “How many hotels would you like in Ramallah?” He’d soon change his allegiance.

      • Mooser
        December 25, 2016, 1:18 pm

        Maybe Trump could get Putin’s Russia to kick in half the 38 billion, and save Medicare, the ACA, and Social Security in the US!

      • Sibiriak
        December 25, 2016, 9:09 pm

        @ Mooser

        Unfortunately, Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear are out of cash and have gone into hibernation.

      • Leahj
        December 27, 2016, 9:53 am

        Mooser, Alas, $38 billion is just the bare minimum. As per the article here, ” The policy statement notes in part that a Trump administration will “ensure that Israel receives maximum military, strategic and tactical cooperation from the United States, and the [Memorandum of Understanding] will not limit the support that we give.”

    • Mooser
      December 25, 2016, 2:41 pm

      “Where is the source for the claim Trump supporters despise Israel?”

      They like Israel, but feel rather ambivalent towards actual American Jews. That’s what I gathered during the campaign.

  4. amigo
    December 25, 2016, 2:11 pm

    “The big news is that when the Republican debate last night in Houston at last turned to foreign policy after 90 minutes, the top subject was Israel and for five or ten minutes, Israel was the word you heard repeated again and again on the stage. The good part is that we are at last getting a debate about U.S. foreign policy with Israel at the top of the list. The unfortunate part was that the candidates were trying to out-Israel one another, in particular Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; and Donald Trump was forced to vow over and over again that he is “totally pro-Israel” and “Nobody on this stage has done more for Israel than I have.”

    First he is more pro Israel than anyone else and then he follows with this !!!.

    “It serves no purpose to say that you have a good guy and a bad guy. Now, I may not be successful in doing it, it’s probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. OK, but it doesn’t help if I start saying– I’m very pro-Israel. Very. More than anybody on the stage. But it doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors because I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace peace, finally for Israel, and for their neighbors… As a negotiator, I cannot do that as well if I’m taking big, big sides ” trump.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2016/02/trumps-refusal-to-name-a-good-guy-and-a-bad-guy-in-conflict-is-anti-israel-says-rubio/

    Crooked Trump , eh.

  5. Talkback
    December 25, 2016, 2:14 pm

    I hope that the combination of Trump and Greenblatt is going to help Israel as much as Netanyahu. Lol.

  6. talknic
    December 25, 2016, 6:38 pm

    The Zionist Movement has had over a century to hone the art of putting people, money and energies in positions advantageous to their cause

    US Presidential tenure, 8 years max

  7. yonah fredman
    December 25, 2016, 9:29 pm

    I wonder whether just being a student for a year or two makes you a settler. I suppose if he received training to carry a weapon and did guard duty then there is an additional factor.

    • Mooser
      December 26, 2016, 12:10 pm

      “I wonder whether just being a student for a year or two makes you a settler”

      Well, if you’ve got what it takes, “Yonah”. If I remember correctly, you couldn’t make the cut.
      But don’t worry “Yonah”, as the Good Book says: “They also serve who stand and kvetch.

  8. F_Aipac
    December 25, 2016, 9:48 pm

    We need to find a new name for pro-settlement, pro-occupation, pro-racism, pro-Islamophobia, pro-apartheid supporters of Israel that we now call “pro-Israel.” “Pro-Israel” is loaded, like “pro-life,” and its use implies we’re anti-Israel.

    • echinococcus
      December 25, 2016, 11:06 pm

      Hey, Faipac,

      Their own daddy called it Zionists. Why do you want to call them anything else?
      And you’re damn tootin’ anyone even acknowledging justice is necessarily “anti-Israel”.
      The Zionist entity is an illegal colonial racial-supremacist genocidal monster.
      The Zionist entity must go.

    • Mooser
      December 26, 2016, 12:06 pm

      “We need to find a new name for…”

      Well, “F_Aipac”, I might suggest that you need a new name.
      An underscore (“_”) in a user name prevents the archive system from working on this site.
      May I suggest you take it out? Or you might be accused of being “anti-archive”!

  9. JLewisDickerson
    December 26, 2016, 11:34 am

    RE: “While Greenblatt supports a two-state solution, he believes that the withdrawal from Gaza was the forerunner to the rise of Hamas, as well as the following wars.” ~ Roqayah Chamseddine

    FOR THE REAL “FORERUNNER TO THE RISE OF HAMAS”, SEE:
    “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas”, By Andrew Higgins, The Wall Street Journal, 01/24/09

    [EXCERPTS] Surveying the wreckage of a neighbor’s bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile’s trajectory back to an “enormous, stupid mistake” made 30 years ago.

    “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

    Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. . .

    . . . When Israel first encountered Islamists in Gaza in the 1970s and ’80s, they seemed focused on studying the Quran, not on confrontation with Israel. The Israeli government officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya, registering the group as a charity. It allowed Mujama members to set up an Islamic university and build mosques, clubs and schools. Crucially, Israel often stood aside when the Islamists and their secular left-wing Palestinian rivals battled, sometimes violently, for influence in both Gaza and the West Bank.

    “When I look back at the chain of events I think we made a mistake,” says David Hacham, who worked in Gaza in the late 1980s and early ’90s as an Arab-affairs expert in the Israeli military. “But at the time nobody thought about the possible results.” . . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123275572295011847.html

  10. James Canning
    December 26, 2016, 12:45 pm

    Yet another American lawyer advocating continuing egregious violations of international law, by Israel.

  11. yonah fredman
    December 26, 2016, 12:52 pm

    One can imagine reuven rivlin as prime minister advocating precisely bibi’s platform minus bibi’s personality and the resulting rivlin obama clash is far less troublesome than the bibi obama clash.

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