US-Palestine not on talking terms, but spokespersons take to Twitter to continue dialogue on Israel conflict

Washington: The United States and the Palestinian Authority are not officially on talking terms, but President Donald Trump's administration has found a way to communicate nonetheless — Twitter.

Jason Greenblatt, the Twitter-loving US leader's special representative for international negotiations, has taken to social media over several days in an indirect, if also plainly visible, dialogue with the Palestinian leadership.

Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and adviser, have been handed the herculean task of coming up with a plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians after decades of failed initiatives.

The pair has been discreet, managing against the odds to avoid leaks of upcoming proposals. But their task is complicated as Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas cut off talks with the administration in 2017 after Trump made the landmark decision of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

US-Palestine not on talking terms, but spokespersons take to Twitter to continue dialogue on Israel conflict

Representational image. AP

In his latest tweets on Wednesday, Greenblatt responded to Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh who warned that no peace was possible without the Palestinian people's assent.

"Well, Mr. Nabil, we agree on something — there is no peace without an agreement. We are working hard on that. You're doing nothing," Greenblatt tweeted. "You can't claim to want peace and also try to sabotage the potential for an agreement. It can't go both ways."

Greenblatt in recent days has also gone on Twitter to reply to Palestinian Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat and fellow senior figure Hanan Ashrawi, often addressing them by their first names on issues ranging from Israeli settlements to US assistance to the status of Jerusalem, the holy city for the three major monotheistic faiths that Palestinians also want as their capital.

"Who says the US and the PA aren't talking? The only difference now is that we are speaking about these matters in public via Twitter so the public can understand everyone's positions. Transparency is better for all," he tweeted.

The strategy is similar to that of Trump, who has embraced Twitter as a way to speak without the filter of critical media or cautious aides.

When Ashrawi criticised Greenblatt for seeking the "gratification of a tweet" over "serious engagement," the Trump aide said he was happy to speak.

"I'm happy to meet anytime — you, Saeb and all your colleagues are ALWAYS welcome to visit me at the @WhiteHouse to speak in person," he tweeted.

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Updated Date: Feb 07, 2019 09:29:30 IST

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