President Donald Trump’s envoy for Mideast negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, met with Israeli settler leaders on Thursday in Jerusalem, in what the Hebrew news site nrg reported was a historic “first.”
According to the report, the meeting between Greenblatt and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi — who is also the chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council — was unusual, as American governments have refrained from public encounters with settler leaders in the past, due to the potentially controversial way in which such rendezvous would be perceived.
Though a spokesman for Revivi told The Algemeiner the content of the closed-door meeting could not be revealed, Dagan told nrg that there was a positive atmosphere.
“The conversation was interesting and pleasant,” Dagan was quoted as saying. “We greatly respect Trump and the new administration, and are happy that it is sympathetic and open to dialogue. [But] it is important for me to emphasize that our requests and demands are first and foremost from our own government and its ministers: that there be a meaningful change [in policy] and a stop to the decrees that have infringed on the fundamental human rights of half a million citizens in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. We demand a halt to the construction freeze, and to be able to build without hindrance.”
As The Algemeiner reported last April, Greenblatt — who is also known by his Hebrew name, Dov — studied at a yeshiva in the West Bank when he was younger, prior to embarking on what would turn out to be a career spanning more than two decades with the Trump organization.
Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew who served as Trump’s executive vice president and chief legal officer before moving with him to Washington after the January 20th presidential inauguration, said that he had originally been nervous about having to tell his employer that a big business deal in the works would have to be put on hold, due to the numerous Jewish holidays that fell in September. But Trump, he said, gave him his blessing to be absent.
When challenged during a press conference in New York with Jewish journalists last year about which word he would use to describe the territories – “West Bank,” “Judea and Samaria,” “occupied” — Trump deferred to Greenblatt.
“I wouldn’t call them occupied territories,” Greenblatt answered. “I would call them settlements. [But] too much time [is spent] getting caught up in terminology.”
In a subsequent one-on-one interview with The Algemeiner in May, Greenblatt said he didn’t consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be about settlements.
(c) 2017 The Algemeiner Journal