Trump’s envoy for Middle East, architect of peace plan set to leave post

President Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East and an architect of the administration’s long-awaited peace plan for the region is leaving the White House, a senior official confirmed to The Hill on Thursday.

Jason Greenblatt will depart the administration in the coming weeks to return to New Jersey, where his wife and six kids reside, the official said. His exit had been discussed at the end of 2018, and the administration began taking steps to transition oversight of the peace plan.{mosads}

Trump’s special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, will assume some of the responsibilities of handling the Middle East peace process, according to the administration official. Avi Berkowitz, a top aide to senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, will also play a more prominent role.

Trump thanked Greenblatt in a tweet for being “a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer.” Greenblatt previously worked as an attorney for the Trump Organization.

“His dedication to Israel and to seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians won’t be forgotten,” Trump tweeted. “He will be missed.”

The New York Times first reported Greenblatt’s impending exit from the administration.

The move further throws into question the timing and viability of the Trump administration’s long-promised Middle East peace plan.

Greenblatt and Kushner have taken the lead on negotiations and have met with leaders in the region throughout the past two years.

“Jason has done a tremendous job leading the efforts to develop an economic and political vision for a long sought after peace in the Middle East,” Kushner said in a statement. “His work has helped develop the relationships between Israel and its neighbors as he is trusted and respected by all of the leaders throughout the region.”

The release of the plan’s specifics has been subject to several delays, and the White House has struggled to garner buy-in from Palestinian officials.

Greenblatt tweeted last week that the White House would withhold the plan until after the Israeli elections set to take place this month.

Israel is set to hold elections on Sept. 17, which were triggered after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition following his victory in April.

The senior administration official would not provide details on the state of the plan, other than to say “the vision is now complete and will be released when appropriate.”

The Trump administration has promised since 2017 that it would deliver a groundbreaking proposal to ensure peace between Israelis, Palestinians and other stakeholders in the Middle East. It has unveiled snippets of its plans, including an economic component, but many of the specifics remain under wraps.

The president has made support for Israel a core issue of his first term. He often highlights the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. 

He has also attacked Democrats as anti-Semitic, seizing on controversial comments from Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). The president stepped into a controversy of his own last month when he said Jewish people who vote Democrat show “disloyalty” to Israel.

Updated at 11:47 a.m.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Donald Trump Ilhan Omar Jared Kushner Middle East peace Rashida Tlaib
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