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Trump’s Middle East envoy to leave job before peace plan released

AP file photo

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, left, and White House Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt attend the opening of an ancient road at the City of David in east Jerusalem on June 30.

The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — The architect of the Trump administration’s delayed Mideast peace plan is leaving the White House in the face of widespread skepticism about the viability of the as-yet-unseen proposal and questions about whether the vision for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will ever be released.

Jason Greenblatt, a long-time lawyer for the Trump Organization who became the president’s special envoy for international negotiations, announced his departure Thursday, saying he would return to the private sector in the coming weeks and spend more time with his family in New Jersey.

Greenblatt had worked closely with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, on developing the peace plan.

Despite his title and spending nearly three years in the post, Greenblatt never participated in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, who cut off ties with the administration after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Instead, his role had been to draft the plan, and officials said that has now been finished.

The White House says the peace plan will not be released until at least after this month’s Israeli elections. Tentative plans to release the proposal had been scrapped at least twice before. The plan already is facing rejection by the Palestinians, who have accused the administration of losing its credibility as an honest broker by repeatedly siding with Israel.

Greenblatt had advocated for the decisions to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights — moves that drew anger and skepticism from Palestinians and Arab nations. He had also led the administration’s push to cut U.S. funding for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, arguing before the world body that the U.N. Relief and Works Agency is corrupt, encourages anti-Israel sentiment and is prolonging the conflict.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have worked in the White House for over two and a half years under the leadership of President Trump,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “I am incredibly grateful to have been part of a team that drafted a vision for peace. This vision has the potential to vastly improve the lives of millions of Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region.”

The White House announced that Greenblatt would be replaced by one of Kushner’s top aides, Avi Berkowitz, who has been traveling with the peace team throughout the Middle East as they put together the plan.Speech

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