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'I hope sovereignty is a matter of when, not if,' says former US envoy


September 4, 2020

(Israel Hayom via JNS) — Former U.S. Special Representative for Middle East Affairs Jason Greenblatt on Wednesday called on those who oppose the suspension of Israel’s sovereignty initiative in favor of peace with the United Arab Emirates to “reconsider their approach.”

Greenblatt, one of the architects of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, said he hopes Israeli sovereignty “isn’t a matter of if, but when.”

Q: Why was the sovereignty bid essentially taken off the table? After all, President Trump declared that “Israel can apply [its] law in the areas in question.”

A: I don’t believe sovereignty has been “taken off the table” indefinitely. And I certainly hope this isn’t the case. I think there was a reason the sides chose the word “suspend.” With that, I think [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu made the right decision, which is to seek a peace deal with the United Arab Emirates and work on the Judea and Samaria issue in the right context at a later date. The approach adopted by the prime minister to work closely with President Trump and the White House—in my opinion, this White House is the greatest supporter of Israel ever—allows Israel to progress methodically with the UAE, hopefully with other Arab neighbors as well, without conceding what I consider justifiable Israeli claims.

Q: Is there a chance the sovereignty initiative will be implemented? What has to happen for that to occur?  

A: I certainly hope so. I hope it’s not a question of if, but when. I think that whoever is against [the suspension of sovereignty] needs to reconsider their approach. It’s difficult to say with certainty what needs to happen for sovereignty to be implemented. I think the Israelis should give Prime Minister Netanyahu the freedom of action he needs to do the best thing possible for the State of Israel in the broadest sense. In my view, the sovereignty issue is indeed very important, but is not the only issue that should matter.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.


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