WASHINGTON (JTA) – Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy handling Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, welcomed the deployment of Palestinian Authority (PA) personnel to control crossings into the Gaza Strip and said it was “essential” that the Palestinian Authority control Gaza.
“The United States believes it is essential that the Palestinian Authority assume full responsibility for Gaza,” his statement said. Hamas control of Gaza has been a major impediment to restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; renewing the talks is a key foreign policy goal for Trump.
Greenblatt’s statement Thursday, a day after the deployment, signals cautious U.S. encouragement of the bid by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to assume control of the Gaza Strip. Because Abbas’ strategy includes a degree of accommodation with Hamas, the enterprise has aroused deep skepticism in Israel’s government. The deployment Wednesday to crossings between Gaza and Israel, and Gaza and Egypt was the latest advance in the delicate negotiations between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Greenblatt was careful in his statement to frame his welcoming of the development in terms that Israel demands. “As we’ve made clear in the past, any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence, recognize the state of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Greenblatt’s statement, posted on social media.
Hamas continues to vow not to disarm. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed concerns that any PA-Hamas unity would favour Hamas and its terrorist activities more than it would peace.