WASHINGTON - Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump's top envoy for talks between Israel and the Palestinians, said Thursday he will soon leave the White House even though no date has been set for the release of a U.S. peace plan for the region.
Greenblatt, a former lawyer for Trump's global business empire, had joined Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, a White House adviser, in the effort to broker peace between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.
The Trump administration proposed a $50 billion economic investment plan to help Palestinians, unveiling it at a conference in Bahrain in June. But the Palestinians boycotted the conference, scorning it since it was not accompanied by a plan for a division of lands in the region, including Israeli-occupied territories where Palestinians live. The White House did not invite the Israelis to attend.
Greenblatt's departure in the coming weeks casts new doubt on the fate of any U.S. peace plan or direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. Greenblatt has said the peace plan will not be released until at least after the Sept. 17 Israeli elections, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch Trump ally, is seeking to extend his lengthy term in office.
In announcing his departure, Greenblatt called it "the honor of a lifetime" to work in Trump's White House for 2 1/2 years.
"I am incredibly grateful to have been part of a team that drafted a vision for peace," Greenblatt said. "This vision has the potential to vastly improve the lives of millions of Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region."
In turn, Trump praised Greenblatt on Twitter.
"After almost 3 years in my Administration, Jason Greenblatt will be leaving to pursue work in the private sector. Jason has been a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer," Trump wrote. "His dedication to Israel and to seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians won't be forgotten. He will be missed. Thank you Jason!"