US envoy Jason Greenblatt, left, shakes hands with PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (Matty Stern/US Embassy) Matty Stern/US Embassy
US envoy Jason Greenblatt,

Calling Judea and Samaria “occupied territory” does not help resolve the conflict, Jason Greenblatt told PBS.

By United With Israel Staff 

U.S. Special Representative for International Relations Jason Greenblatt has again come to Israel’s defense, rejecting old notions of Israel as an occupier responsible for the victimization of the Palestinian people.

Asked what “responsibility the Israelis bear for the current state of affairs in the Middle East,” Greenblatt told interviewer Judy Woodruff:

“I think that Israel is actually more the victim than the party that’s responsible,” adding that “from the moment of its formation, they were attacked multiple times. They continue to be attacked with terrorism. So I’m not sure I understand the premise of the question.”

“I think that they’re trying their best to succeed,” said the senior official. “They have actually succeeded in many ways, especially economically, under very, very trying circumstances.”

Woodruff persisted, asking: “You don’t see mistakes they have made, places where they have overstepped their authority?”

The envoy stood his ground: “I think Israel is doing the best that it possibly can under very challenging circumstances.”

He then began rejecting the usage of terms such as “settlements” to describe Israeli communities located in territories captured by the Jewish State in the 1967 war, saying “it’s a pejorative term. I use the term neighborhoods and cities.”

Greenblatt also referred to the West Bank by its biblical name, Judea and Samaria, and countered the argument that the territories are “occupied” by Israel.

“I would argue that the land is disputed. It needs to be resolved in the context of direct negotiations between the parties. Calling it occupied territory does not help resolve the conflict,” the Trump adviser told PBS.

Asked about when the U.S. political plan for Israel and the Palestinians would be announced, Greenblatt replied: “The president will make his decision soon.”

He explained that “it’s no secret that, when the Israelis had to go to a second election, that sort of threw us off a little bit.

“We haven’t yet decided whether we release the plan before or after the Israeli elections, if it’s after the Israeli elections, before or after the government is formed. We’re still evaluating that,” said Greenblatt.

He bemoaned the fact that Palestinians with whom he meets are afraid to reveal their identity. “I meet countless Palestinians here in the region,” the American envoy told PBS.

“They know I’m very active on Twitter. And no matter how great the meeting goes — and almost all of them are great, even if they are tough discussions about U.S. policy — they always plead with me when I leave: ‘Please do not tweet about our meeting. Please do not tell who you met with,'” said Greenblatt.

“I have to respect that,” he said. “They are afraid, and that’s unfortunate.”