US President Donald Trump’s special advisor and Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt told a Palestinian delegation in Jerusalem Tuesday that Israel had committed to slowing down the pace of construction in the West Bank during peace negotiations, according to a report published in the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat.
After the report was published on Wednesday morning however, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement flatly denying the claim: “There is no such commitment,” the statement read.
Greenblatt’s comments were reported to have been said during a meeting with the Palestinian PLO Executive Committee headed by Saeb Erekat ahead of President Trump’s expected announcement to kick-start his new peace initiative between the Palestinians and Israel.
Senior Palestinian officials said that they had been informed by the American envoy that Trump will ask both sides to enter into negotiations without preconditions on final status issues.
The Palestinian delegation was said to have estimated that the negotiations would be restricted to a period of between one and two years. Another Palestinian senior official said that by establishing contact with both parties separately on every issue, the Americans were aiming to reach understandings which would be immediately publicized in order to facilitate a positive climate for boosting the talks.
Furthermore, the Palestinians apparently confirmed that Trump’s initiative would have an effect on the entire region and would include the participation of other Arab states to achieve a peace agreement in which all parties would have an interest.
It is this crucial difference in Trump’s fresh initiative, the Palestinians stated, that would increase the chances of a breakthrough for establishing relationships between Israel and other Arab states.