Photo Credit: US Embassy in Israel
US Special Representative to International Negotiations Jason D. Greenblatt, with families of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, Israelis still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the region says he’s outraged that Hamas is still holding Israelis hostage in Gaza.

Jason D. Greenblatt, Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, met Monday evening after his arrival in Israel with the families of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, two of the three living hostages being held by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror organization.

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In addition, Hamas is still holding the remains of IDF officers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul as well, whose bodies the terrorists kidnapped during the final days of the 2014 counter terrorist war, Operation Protective Edge.

Greenblatt tweeted his reaction to the grief of the families after their meeting. “Shame on Hamas for preventing their return. All must come home,” he wrote.

His purpose for meeting with the families, according to a statement from the White House, was “to discuss the fate of their loved ones … He wished to also meet with the family of Jumaa Abu Ghanima (ed: who is also being held by Hamas) but that unfortunately did not occur. Mr. Greenblatt expressed outrage that Hamas has not allowed the Israelis, some of whom may need medical assistance, to communicate with their families and return home,” the statement continued. “Mr. Greenblatt expressed his sincere hope that all three Israelis would be returned to their families immediately.”

Greenblatt has been busy since the moment he hit the tarmac upon his arrival in Israel on Monday “to continue our efforts to try to achieve a lasting peace” for “Israel and the Palestinian Territories.”

The envoy also tweeted his pleasure at seeing a former classmate, now known as Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, deeply involved with interfaith dialogue together with Muslim leaders in the Palestinian Authority.

Earlier in the day, Yisrael Beytenu party chairman and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called on the Trump administration to change course in its peacemaking style, and abandon the failing bilateral approach.

Speaking at the weekly faction meeting, Liberman pointed out that numerous governments have tried – and failed – to make peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority since the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords. The Ramallah government refused all attempts, regardless of who made the effort, and regardless of what was contained in the plan.

In light of that history, Liberman advised Greenblatt in his remarks to abandon the bilateral track, and move instead towards a broader plan that involves other Arab states in the region.

Greenblatt is slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. He will meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas this week as well.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.