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Trump's Middle East envoy faces resistance at UN Security Council over Palestine and Israel

Jason Greenblatt said US president hoped to decide soon whether to release peace plan before Israeli election

Jason Greenblatt, above, and senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner have spent two years developing a Middle East peace plan. Getty
Jason Greenblatt, above, and senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner have spent two years developing a Middle East peace plan. Getty

A plan for peace between Palestinians and Israelis cannot rely on global consensus, inconclusive international law and unclear resolutions, the US Middle East envoy told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

Jason Greenblatt and senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner have spent two years developing a plan, which they hope will lead to renewed talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Mr Greenblatt said Mr Trump hoped to decide soon whether to release the plan before or after Israeli elections in September.

The Security Council has long endorsed a two-state solution to the conflict, but Mr Kushner has hinted that his peace plan would take a different direction.

The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in 1967.

“If that were achievable, I think we’d already have peace. It’s not achievable,” Mr Greenblatt said after the session.

He said the plan “does not contain a one-state solution".

Mr Greenblatt told the 15-member Security Council that peace could not be achieved “by fiat of international law or by these heavily wordsmithed, unclear resolutions".

That triggered strong rebuttals from members including Germany, Russia, the UK, France and Indonesia.

“For us, international law is not menu à la carte,” Germany’s UN ambassador, Christoph Heusgen, told the council.

“There are other instances where US representatives here insist on international law, insist on the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions, for instance on North Korea."

France would support any peace effort “as long as this aligns with the approach that we have set out together", French UN ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said. "So long as this adheres to international law, specifically all resolutions of the Security Council."

The Russian ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said: “Security Council resolutions are international law; they merely need to be complied with."

Mr Greenblatt later said that he understood his remarks might have irritated some people.

“But there’s nothing that I said that in our view wasn’t truthful and I think that everything I said is a necessary step to eventually airing the plan and, if there’s traction, getting to results,” he said.

Mr Greenblatt, Mr Kushner and US Iran envoy Brian Hook will travel to the Middle East this month to promote a proposed $50 billion (Dh183.6bn) economic development plan for the Palestinians, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.

“We are trying to view this holistically,” Mr Greenblatt said of Mr Hook taking part in the delegation.

“Even if I had a great peace plan, if we don’t figure out how to make sure that Iran doesn’t spoil it, how much success are we really going to have?”

In the Security Council, he called on the Palestinians “to put aside blanket rejections of a plan they have not even seen” and show a willingness to engage in talks with Israel.

Mr Greenblatt also urged the Security Council to encourage the parties back to the negotiating table.

Mr Nebenzia suggested a visit by the Security Council to the region was overdue and could be helpful.

The US has long objected to a council visit, which has to be agreed to by consensus, diplomats said.

Updated: July 24, 2019 12:18 PM

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