A senior White House official who asked to remain anonymous told Ha’aretz that US Ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, will join the meeting of President Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt with the PA negotiating team in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
The senior official stressed that Trump defined Ambassador Friedman as a key member of the US negotiating team and asked him to work closely with Greenblatt, as well as with Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, to promote the peace efforts.
The PA will be represented by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, Security Chief Majed Faraj, and Abbas’ economic advisor, Mohammed Mustafa.
According to Ha’aretz, during Trump’s meeting with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem about a month and a half ago, the Trump asked his advisors why Friedman was not attending. They replied that according to protocol Friedman did not participate in meetings with the PA because he was the ambassador to Israel. After that meeting, Trump ordered a change in protocol, instructing the team to include Friedman in meetings with the PA side as well.
A senior PA official said during the Kushner and Greenblatt visit, some three weeks ago, that the two Americans wanted to bring Friedman to a meeting with Abbas, but the Chairman refused for two reasons: Friedman’s wholesale support for the settler lobby during Trump’s election campaign; and the PA fear that accepting the American ambassador to Israel at the meetings would undermine their independent diplomatic status with the American administration.