NEW YORK (JTA) — Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s chief Middle East negotiator, said Hamas uses protests at Israel’s border with Gaza to attack the Jewish state.
“Hamas and other terrorist groups have spent their energy and resources encouraging Palestinians in Gaza to stage protests and throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the border fence,” Greenblatt said Tuesday here in a speech at the American Jewish Committee’s women’s leadership board spring luncheon. “In some cases Hamas use the protests as cover to attack Israeli troops and plant bombs along the border fence.”
Greenblatt did not speak about the Israeli army’s actions in response to the protests in recent weeks; the international community has condemned the response. Thirty-nine Palestinians, including a journalist, have been killed by Israeli fire and hundreds wounded amid the protests, according to Haaretz. The demonstrations preceded a call by Hamas officials for protests against Israel and are calling for the return of Palestinian land.
At the event Greenblatt, a longtime lawyer to Trump, said some “good news” in the region includes opportunities for Israel to forge better ties with other Arab countries.
Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “increasingly look to Israel as a security and economic partner. These ties can serve as a model for future collaboration that benefit all and lead to closer regional ties,” Greenblatt said.
Greenblatt praised the president for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said that ties between Israel and the United States are more robust than ever.
He also shared stories of meeting with Israelis and Arabs of different backgrounds, including comforting families who lost relatives in terror attacks and hosting five young Palestinians for a Shabbat dinner with his family in Jerusalem.
“These experiences have shown me that so many of us share the same hopes, dreams and aspirations,” he said.
Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten .
Trump Envoy Jason Greenblatt Slams Hamas Gaza Protests