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Palestinians, Israelis disappointed over US envoy's talks

The Palestinian leadership believes that much of the Trump administration’s efforts on the Israeli-Palestinian issue are focused on economic confidence-building measures, not advancing the two-state solution.
Jason Greenblatt (C), U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy, sits next to Tzachi Hanegbi (L), Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation and Mazen Ghoneim, head of the Palestinian Water Authority, during a news conference in Jerusalem July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RTX3B939
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A senior PLO official told Al-Monitor that the diplomatic process taking place between the Palestinians, Israel and the United States can be defined as a fierce brainstorming as to who will be blamed by the Trump administration for the ultimate failure of its peace efforts. The official, who took part in the latest round of talks held by US presidential envoy Jason Greenblatt, said with cynicism on condition of anonymity, “Trust the US, it will be the Palestinians’ fault.” He added that having learned how President Donald Trump acts, the Palestinians do not expect an acknowledgment of failure, as with former President Barack Obama. Instead, the administration will probably state that progress has been made and that efforts continue.

With these words, one can detect a new tone in Ramallah in recent days — greater pessimism bordering on despair. The Palestinian leadership is witnessing that much of the Trump administration’s efforts are focused on economic confidence-building measures. One such measure is building permits in the Israeli-controlled West Bank Area C, including the Qalqilya expansion plan, which is contested by some Israeli Cabinet ministers. Another measure is the plans for improving the West Bank water supply by creating a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in coordination with Jordan and the World Bank. The PLO official said, “The notion of economic peace plays right into [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s hands and policies — anything but a two-state solution.”

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