Jason Greenblatt is one of the few individuals in the world who can be credited with bringing peace to the Middle East. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to listen to Jason discuss the brilliant negotiations leading up to the Abraham Accords as well as present day ramifications to those groundbreaking peace agreements.
Why did new negotiating strategies have to be deployed?
Why was it counterproductive to over-study the history of strife in the Middle East?
Why was it better for the United States to act as a smart broker rather than an honest or fair broker?
What was the key reason for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem? Should the United States have pressured Israel for a related concession?
What did the Abraham Accord negotiators propose to the Palestinian Authority in terms of access to holy sites in Jerusalem and control of Judea and Samaria?
What were the consequences of peace with Muslim countries preceding achieving peace with the Palestinian Authority?
What were the main motivators for Muslim countries to sign on to the Abraham Accords?
Could the Abraham Accords have been achieved without Iranian belligerence?
What is the Biden administration doing to jeopardize the Abraham Accords?
Which countries could be the next (or last) signatories to the Abraham Accords?
What should you know about proposed legislation to solidify and expand the Abraham Accords?
Are China, Europe and Russia favorable, unfavorable or neutral on the Abraham Accords?
About Jason Greenblatt
Jason Greenblatt is a former White House Middle East Envoy. Jason was a Chief Architect of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. He is the Founder and CEO of Abraham Venture and is the author of In the Path of Abraham.
Speaker 2 00:02
Hello, everyone. Welcome to solution nation. I’m David wanna tick, the CEO of Solution Nation Today. I’m really honored to invite Jason Greenblatt to be our guest today. For those of you who don’t know about Jason Greenblatt, he is a former White House Middle East envoy and he was a chief architect of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. He’s the founder and CEO of Abraham Venture and he’s the author of a very fine book called In The Path of Abraham. So Jason’s really great to have you with us today.
Speaker 1 00:34
It’s great to be here. Thanks for hosting me.
Speaker 2 00:37
So just before I start asking questions, I just want people to take a minute and think about what a monumental achievement it was to create peace between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors. You know, before you achieve that, it was just a dream. People didn’t think it was possible, and you were one of the people that made that happen. So that was a wonderful achievement. We made for not only Israel and its neighbors, but for humanity. It showed that peace can be achieved through good diplomacy and good negotiations and good strategy. So in reading your book, and by the way, this is a very well written book, very informative in the path of Abraham. I allowed myself a week to read it because I’m so busy, but I ended up reading it in about 3 days because it was so interesting. It seemed like one of the first things you and your team did is you understood that to achieve peace you have to try a different avenue. You can’t just repeat the same processes. That had been underway for the last 30 or 40 years right so what I discovered, and it took a couple of weeks, maybe even a couple of months to figure that out. There are a lot of very well meaning people who just kept repeating the same things over and over again that we tried so many times before us. Some of them, by the way, weren’t even true. Some of them were just aspirational. None of them ever worked. And after a while we, you know, looked at ourselves and said, why are we going to try the same thing again after it failed the first couple of times? We wanted to take a completely fresh approach, and we did. And the results speak for themselves. Now, it’s true we didn’t resolve the Israeli, Palestinian conflict, far from it, though I do think we put down a new benchmark, one that is extraordinarily detailed and should hopefully one day serve as the basis for negotiation between those two sides. But I think as between Israel and some of its our neighbors, we completely flipped the table around. We were extraordinarily lucky that we had. Very brave, courageous. Leaders who were willing to take chances. Obviously we couldn’t have done any of this without that kind of leadership in the Middle East, and of course, President Trump’s willingness to think outside the box and shake things up and perhaps even break some China. But we did some unusual things, and I think the results speak for themselves.
Speaker 2 03:07
I think another interesting thing about your initial approach is you didn’t study the problem to death. It seems like a lot of previous administrations maybe spent the 1st 3 and a half years studying the conflict, going back thousands of years and going into all kinds of minutia about the conflict, and it seems like you and your colleagues were much more focused on the issues and the interests that the various parties had rather than all the history.
Speaker 1 03:36
For sure look. You were extraordinarily results oriented. And you’re right, you could study the conflict forever. I mean, we’re never going to get the two sides to agree on the different narratives. I generally subscribe to the Israel narrative. I’ll never get my Palestinian friends to agree that the Israel and Arab is the correct narrative. I certainly wouldn’t get the Israelis to agree, at least not, let’s say, center, left, center and right to agree to the Palestinian narrative. So while understanding the history and the arguments is of course important and you shouldn’t. Try to get involved in diplomacy if you don’t at least understand where both sides are coming from. If you get caught in the history too much, if you get caught in the details, the minutia, you keep asking yourself, how far do I go back? How do I disprove this? How do I show the other side that they’re wrong? And then you realize you get down this rabbit hole or multiple rabbit holes, and you’re never going to climb out of it. So we learned what we thought was necessary to learn, and then we instead focused on where we were block.
Speaker 2 04:39
So I suppose if you study history too much, it might catch up with you eventually.
Speaker 2 04:45
So, anyway, another interesting I think approach that you took was you in and you wrote about this in your book that the Americans wanted to be smart brokers, not fair brokers. So we see this happening in negotiations all the time. A lot of times the Scandinavian company countries are called to intermediate because they’re far away from the conflict and they’re very neutral. You know, by definition they’re pretty neutral. You know, so we were sort of taught that that’s the way in a mediator should behave in and you took a different approach being a smart broker versus a fair broker. Can you talk about that a little bit? Sure and before we even get to fair broker, one of the major terms that I learned early on was an honest broker. People kept saying, well, you have to be an honest broker. You know what? There’s no honest broker in this deal. There are many people who are pro Israel. There are many who are pro Palestinian. Very hard to find somebody who’s, you know, completely down the middle. So I would say to anybody who keeps using the term honest broker, there’s no such thing and stop using that term. Then when you get to fair is really in the eye of the beholder. The plan that we proposed I think was fair, but the Palestinian side certainly would argue that it was too pro Israeli. But don’t go tell that to the right wing in Israel and especially the very right wing in Israel where they didn’t like the plan at all. They felt it was too good for the Palestinians. So fair really is in the eye of the beholder. Some argue that you should split the land up, down the middle or by acreage, or split Jerusalem by East and West, and in theory those sound fair. But this is not a conflict that’s going to be resolved on what some people think is fair. It’s too complicated for that. Our purpose was to find. A AA resolution that was implementable, that was realistic. Of course it needs to be fair in some sense, right? Something that’s terribly unfair would never fly. But the notion that there’s a fair solution to this conflict is probably inaccurate.
Speaker 2 06:52
Ok. Another paradigm that you shattered was the conventional thinking was that you have to resolve the Israeli, Palestinian conflict first before you can reach out further and bring other Arab countries into the fold. You sort of did it the other way around, where you got some of the more moderate Arab countries, gulf countries, to go along with the Abraham Accords, and then you tried to get the Palestinians to come to a reasonable deal.
Speaker 1 07:24
While shattering indeed. And there were a lot of myths that we shattered and we try to and I’m hoping to continue to shatter more and more myths. But one of those big myths was that they’ll never be peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Other than Jordan and Egypt that had signed treaties a long time ago. There would never be such peace until the Israeli Palestinian conflict was resolved. In fact not too much before we went into office, second former Secretary of State John Kerry notoriously said at some public appearance. Forget where, and I’d encourage your listeners and viewers to look this up on YouTube. You know, no there will never be peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors until the Israeli, Palestinian conflict is resolved. Now, he might have been right 50 years ago, 40, maybe even 15 years ago. I don’t know the answer to that, but I could tell you he was dead wrong when he said it, and it took a long time. I don’t want to make light of this. It took a long time for us to eventually get there. But clearly. Anybody who says that the Arab Israeli conflict will not be resolved without resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict is incorrect. Now, that doesn’t mean that all of the Arab Israeli conflict will be resolved. There are some countries who line up to say will be last, thank you very much umm there was a lot of talk, for example, in at the World Cup hosted by Qatar because of the bad experience that some Israeli journalists had with some Arabs in the crowd, or people are making a lot of noise. About how Palestinian flags were flying at some of the games when they were. When FIFA and Qatar were unwilling to allow, you know, various Iranian political positions to be told, it’s true. There are plenty of Arab nations and plenty of Arab people who still believe the Israeli Palestinian conflict is the first and foremost conflict that has to be dealt with. But that does not mean that Israel can’t maintain good relations with its Arab neighbors, that it can’t continue to allow the that these countries who signed the Abraham Accords wouldn’t allow it to continue to thrive and prosper. And that there won’t be others who sign the Abraham Accords or at least normalize to some degree with Israel. I think the days of the Palestinian leadership having a veto over Israel having relationships with its Arab neighbors, I think those days are over with respect to some of the other Arab nations and certainly many of the Arab people.
Speaker 2 09:55
So I believe that you and your colleagues try to seek resolution with the Palestinian Authority, maybe concurrently with building ties to the Gulf countries. But since that didn’t work, and in your book you documented throughout history how many times peace proposals and very generous land proposals were given to the Palestinians and they. Rejected them every time. So since your overtures to the Palestinians didn’t have the have the effect that you wanted it to, was part of the thinking to go with the have alliances agreements with the Gulf countries, have them cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, and that reduced aid may cause them to go to the negotiating table?
Speaker 1 10:48
Not in my mind. I know President Trump did make some comments like that, at least US aid, not necessarily aid from the Arab countries. But let’s back up a minute. First of all, we never intended to leave the Palestinians behind. We were with them every step of the way, trying to get them to come to the table. The Palestinian Authority cut us off in December of 2017 when President Trump made that bold, courageous, historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which was based on a bipartisan law from. Congress, for many years ago, Palestinian Authority decided we’re never going to talk to this White House again. And by the way, that ignores and we should get to maybe later in this conversation the other so-called leadership of the Palestinians, the murderous terrorist thugs Hamas, who subjugate 2000000 Palestinians in Gaza, but we didn’t intend to leave the Palestinians behind. They left themselves behind. The Arab countries, including those that signed the Abraham Accords, still very much support the Palestinian people and the and are looking for a Palestinian state. Many of them do continue to give aid to the Palestinians, but we never once asked any of those Arab countries to cut aid off to the Palestinians. We felt that it was their decision whether or not to fund the Palestinians. Some of them do, some of them don’t. Some of them pledge, some of them redeem those pledges, others redeem them less. We did cut off aid, but not in order to force the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. After studying the conflict, we decided it was not a wise use of US taxpayer money to keep giving aid to the Palestinians when they weren’t interested in helping the Palestinian people, when they continued to pay Palestinians to murder or harm Israelis, when they were misusing the money, using the money and corrupt ways. Our view was it’s not our job to continue to just keep writing checks to the Palestinian leadership when they won’t take responsibility. To use that money wisely and certainly when they were refusing to stop that horrific law of using some of their money to pay Palestinians or certainly encourage Palestinians to harm and murder Israelis.
Speaker 2 13:04
Ok, so you said you didn’t request that the Gulf countries, stop sending aid to the Palestinian Authority. Is that a blanket statement or did you try to discourage them from sending aid that would be used to fund martyrs?
Speaker 1 13:23
We certainly raised the issue of how the Palestinian Authority used the money, including to pay or reward Palestinians for murdering Israelis. And i guess i should take a step back. It was not a blanket statement because I spoke at least twice at the UN Security Council when the Security Council tried to get the White House to force Israel, because Israel has a similar law. We have a law in the United States called the Taylor Force law that means for every dollar the Palestinian Authority uses to pay Palestinians to harm a murder Israelis, we reduce aid to the Palestinian Authority. The law was on the books. It came on the books during President Trump’s administration and remains on the books. I presume the Biden administration continues to follow it. After all, it is US law. Israel has a very similar law that it will not fund monies due to the Palestinian Authority that it collects from taxes or otherwise that would otherwise be due from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. It reduces the money that’s owed to the Palestinian Authority for the same reason. The Palestinian Authority, when offered by israel was ready to give the balance of the money, the money that shouldn’t have been deducted to the palestinian Authority said no no. We’re not going to take a penny from Israel. We’re not going to. We want all the money, including the deducted money or we’re not going to take a penny. That obviously precipitated a crisis for the Palestinian Authority. They’re going to pay salaries of police and all sorts of government workers and hospital bills and this and that. But it was a self-made crisis. Security Council of the United Nations Steps in. They tried to convince me to convince Bibi Netanyahu was the Prime Minister at the time, to hand over all of the money to the Palestinian Authority that was owed, in other words, to basically ignore Israeli law. So I did try to convince the Security Council, and there might have been some Arab nations on that Security Council at the time. And I said to them, we will not try to force Israel to do that. It’s a legitimate law. The US is a similar law. And it’s like giving a lollipop to a tan trimming child. The Palestinian Authority could prevent this crisis by taking the money that is available. Instead, they choose to create a crisis by refusing that money. I think the Security Council looks terribly foolish by trying to demand that Israel hand over that money. The US is certainly not going to hand over the money from the US because we follow the Taylor force law. And frankly, each of your countries should not fill in that gap because every time you fill in that gap, you just perpetuate. This crisis.
Speaker 2 16:02
So on the issue of the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem, that was a very brave decision because the conventional wisdom was if you do that, there’s going to be Armageddon for 10 years, there’s going to be riots and another intifada that’s going to be 10 times as worse as anything we’ve ever seen. So it was a very brave decision. To what extent did you research the possible reaction to it? Did you confer with the CIA or the Shin Bet? Did you have a polling companies polled the sentiment in the Palestinian territories, you know, to make a very brave decision.
Speaker 1 16:43
So we ran in a very extensive interagency process. I don’t know how many of the US agencies besides the CIA, the State Department, the FBI, etcetera were involved, but it was a very long, extensive and thorough process. The findings were eventually presented to President Trump and it was a courageous decision on his part where I think and of course he actually gets more credit than people would imagine because besides our own government, some of whom thought that there would be significant. Blowback to the decision, which turns out they were inaccurate. We got calls in the White House from so many different countries saying the same thing, and in the end it turned out to be political posturing or people who were either against Israel, against truth, against history, against President Trump honoring his campaign promises against President Trump honoring US law. So I think he made the correct decision. I mean, we are now how many years out? I guess five years out, all of those prophecies turned out to not to be accurate. And rest assured, it was a very extensive process.
Speaker 2 17:53
Yeah, the reaction was very muted. There were few demonstrations burning a few tires and some streets for a few days. But it’s part of it that the Palestinians are more economically successful now than they were during the previous intifadas. Are people working more and they just don’t have time to engage in protest now or. Was something going on?
Speaker 1 18:20
I don’t think so. Let’s remember, by the way, the threats were not just from the Palestinians, meaning what we were warned about were threats throughout the Middle East. In fact, I would say the Palestinian threat perhaps was the smallest among them. But no, i don’t think the Palestinians are doing better economically. I think the Palestinians need a tremendous amount of help, not only in Gaza, but even in the Palestinian areas that are in Judea and Samaria. Their leadership won’t allow that to happen. There are certainly some benefits recently to the Palestinians because the prior Israeli Government allowed more Palestinians to come into Israel to work. So arguably the economy and the Palestinian areas, including Gaza, is somewhat better. But in 2017 I don’t think that was accurate. And I think the Palestinians still unfortunately rely not just on protests or peaceful protests, but on terrorism and other kinds of unsafe or extremely harmful protests, not all. But groups of them continue to use that mechanism to try to, you know, show their view and that kind of view, whether it’s terrorism, you know, small knife stabbings, car rammings, bigger terrorism, all of that has been extraordinarily harmful to the Palestinian cause and will remain harmful to the Palestinian cause.
Speaker 2 19:40
Well, when the United States did move its embassy to Jerusalem, it took away a big negotiating point from the Palestinians. And they always like, well, we’ll hold that out for the last thing to be negotiated and that would you just made it a fact the situation has changed and took a big negotiating issue off the table yeah well, 2 two things. Number one, you don’t negotiate based on truth. Jerusalem was, is and always will be the capital of Israel. So we felt that was truth. We didn’t think it was appropriate for the White House to ask Israel to use that as a bargaining chip when it was truthful. But the second thing is, and people mistaken make this mistake all the time, including some journalists and so-called experts, think tankers who have, who made this comment to me so many times, why didn’t President Trump? Hold that back. Or if they were good, if President Trump was going to give it to Israel, why did he demand something of Israel at the same time to give something to the Palestinians? And my answer is very simple. Go back and read the law. Go back and read the Jerusalem Embassy act. The Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed and it says three things. One, Jerusalem is the capital, the eternal capital of Israel. Two, move the US embassy to Jerusalem. And three, the only time you shouldn’t do, you shouldn’t follow this law is if the President of the United States. Believes that there’s a national security reason not to follow US law. So presidential candidate after presidential candidate made the promise that they were going to honor the Jerusalem Embassy Act. They all didn’t follow through, probably because they got the same briefings we got and believe them and maybe they were right to believe them at the time. You know, I wasn’t in the room, so I don’t know the answer. Maybe those threats and prophecies were true at the time, and maybe those presidents were correct in signing those national security waivers. I don’t know. Nobody could really answer that question because it wasn’t done. President Trump decided not to sign the second waiver, went through with it. But the law doesn’t say, oh, by the way, when you go ahead and do this exact a penalty out of Israel and give something to the Palestinians, at the same time he followed US. Law and he had no obligation to change US law, to demand something of Israel while negotiating with the Palestinians. So I think anybody who asked that question hasn’t looked at US law. Or didn’t carefully read the Jerusalem Embassy Act in its totality?
Speaker 2 22:07
Yeah, yeah. You were just recognizing the fact, like every other country can decide what their capital is and where all the embassies should be. So in your book in the path of Abraham, you mentioned the history of the Arabs turning the Palestinians, turning down various generous peace proposals. What was your plan or your team’s plan to offer the Palestinians in terms of access to holy sites in Jerusalem? And to territory in Judea and Samaria.
Speaker 1 22:42
So we decided rather than go with a, you know, one page six eight ten point one. Sentence per point aspirational term sheet of what piece could look like. We took the time to draft, you know, roughly a 6070 page peace proposal together with a very significant economic package that Jared Kushner and his team had drafted. And we showed the Palestinians what life could be like, and of course it showed the Israelis as well. But including that is the point that you make, which is about jerusalem has never been as open a city and has protected a city for religions as it is under Israel. Never in the history of Jerusalem, in modern history as any country that controlled Jerusalem or any power that’s that is controlled Jerusalem, been as careful to give access. To all religions, to all holy sites. Actually, ironically, it’s the Jews who get the short end of the stick. Because while Jews can access what I call the Temple Mount where two Jewish temples once stood and others, at least Muslims, called the Haram Al Sharif where the mosque is Jews and not a lot of prey up there under law. So Jews get the short end of the stick of that under our peace plan. We propose that everybody gets to pray up there because that would be using the word fair from earlier. In the conversation, that would be an example that’s easily understandable, to be fair. And this is not a rabbinic, you know, law question or Jewish law question. This is simply a diplomacy question. But we believe that Israel has done a very good job handling the holy sites and access. It’s true that from time to time Israel does issue closure orders sometimes. You know, Palestinians cannot go there if they’re over a certain ages 4050 It depends on the story. But that’s the, that’s the situation when tensions flare. And they have no choice but to limit access. For the most part, Jerusalem runs pretty well. Could it be improved? Sure are there security flare ups? Sure but for the most part we felt Israel was doing a pretty good job giving everybody access to holy and historical sites.
Speaker 2 24:55
And then what was offered to the Palestinian Authority in terms of control over different parts of Judea and Samaria?
Speaker 1 25:04
So we try to carve out significant areas for a Palestinian state. I don’t like to use the word two state solution. Palestinian state. We created what we thought was a realistic Palestinian state for Palestinians had control over many of the areas within Jordan, Samaria, but with Israel having overriding security control if the Palestine loosely stated. The plan says that if the Palestinians did a strong job protecting Palestinians and Israelis. Keeping things safe, then Israel wouldn’t have to come in to do anything on the Palestinian side. But if the Palestinians couldn’t handle it, either because they didn’t have experience doing it and needed time to come up to speed or one day, you know, whether it’s in a year or 10 or 50, a new Hamas would reappear or a new ISIS would reappear and things would get difficult again. Then Israel would always have the right to make sure that they could protect themselves. We felt that it was a crazy situation. For us to ask Israel, a country that’s been that war has been waged against and that has had, you know, so many terror attacks against it from the very moment of its existence, for us to say now back out of this area and cross your fingers and hope everything will be great. We thought that would be a ridiculous ask on our part. We wouldn’t ask that of any friends or ally or pretty much any other country. We also want to make sure that Israel wouldn’t be castigated in the United Nations, as it always is if Israel felt that it needed to go into. Keep safety and security. We wanted to make sure that it had the right to do so and wouldn’t have to worry about sanctions. At the same time, if the Palestinians did their job right and they did a good job, we think that we created a plan that would allow the Palestinians to create something so special and unique for themselves, as Israel has managed, despite overwhelming odds against it, to create. I mean, Israel is a thriving democracy, usually successful, prosperous, we think the Palestinian Authority. Could do that under our plan, and even more so, the Palestinian Authority has so many legs up on Israel. Because if we had signed that peace plan, instead of the Palestinians being attacked from day one, the world undoubtedly would have gotten together, flooded the Palestinian state with money to create something really unique, really special, and if they did it right, very prosperous but palestinians refused. In Gaza, of course, Hamas wouldn’t even hear of the peace plan. But even among the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, they condemned the plan. Before it came out, their Prime Minister said that he hopes the peace plan is born dead. They probably didn’t read a word of it. And they continue to cut ties mass.
Speaker 2 27:51
So it seems like some of the big factors that enabled the Abraham chords to take place, where some of the Gulf states were a little bit fed up with the Palestinian Authority rejecting every reasonable peace agreement, corruption, not taking care of their own people, and Iran, you know, definitely a huge threat that must have been a big motivator to get them to negotiate with the Israelis and a desire to diversify. Their economies, perhaps with Israeli technology. Would you say those are three of the big factors that were the other factors that?
Speaker 1 28:30
Certainly, yeah. There’s certainly all the factors among, but I would maybe change the last one to not even necessarily tie to Israel, these Gulf countries and Morocco, they all have their own visions of where they want to go diversifying off of oil. They have a huge youth population, you know, a real youth bulge if you will. They want it. They’re in the process of transforming their economies, their societies and even those. Countries that aren’t part of the Abrahamic courts are doing that. In order to do that, they realize they have to put their countries first. So while they remain supportive of the Palestinian cause, they’d like to see a Palestinian state. They’ll probably want to see a Palestinian state along the lines of the talking points they’ve used for years and years, which in my view is not a realistic set of talking points. But even with that, their priority today is bringing their country into the future. It’s not the palestinians are on the list of priorities, but the most important priority, as it should be, are their own countries.
Speaker 2 29:34
With the Abraham Accords have happened without Iran. You know, Iran is a must have been a huge motivator if Iran was more moderate, less threatening. Would you have been able to get the reaction that you did on the part of the Gulf countries?
Speaker 1 29:51
To answer right, it certainly was a motivating factor when we came into office, one of the consistent messages we heard throughout the region, not just from Israel but throughout the region, because they felt betrayed by the Obama administration because of the Iran deal and the threat of Iran, the continued threat of Iran. But it’s hard to, I guess I would say proven negative, right. If Iran wasn’t there, would we have been able to do it? I don’t know the answer. I’d like to say yes, but it certainly doesn’t hurt the fact is that all these countries are in the line of fire from Iran. In my view Iran and it has said this publicly wants to wipe Israel off the map. I think their next step would go in and try to take over those big beautiful cities that either exist or are being designed and shortly will exist throughout the Gulf whether it’s Dubai or Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Jeddah, all these cities, Manama, all these cities of the Iranian regime has its eye on them. And then, of course, Iran wants to strike against the United States. It calls the United States the Big Satan. Israel, of course, is the little Satan. And for the Europeans who think they’re safe and secure on the continent of Europe, you know, the Europeans who the United States under the Biden administration wanted to rely on to negotiate a new Iran deal, and we trusted the Europeans to negotiate on our behalf. The Europeans don’t have the United States interest at heart. Europeans are interested in doing business with Iran, pretty much it. They think they’re not in the harm. They’re not in harm’s way from Iran. Let’s just look to see what’s happening in Ukraine. Iran is providing, you know, drones and other material to Russia. Russia’s using it in Ukraine, right in Europe’s back door. So I think you the Europeans, have put their head in the sand when it comes to Iran and should really wake up.
Speaker 2 31:43
Ok. Just a little change in direction for a moment before we go back to policy questions. Just how did you? Have the stamina to be a international negotiator going back and forth to the Middle East and the jet lag and having to present yourself immediately after you land at A at a world class level before kings and Princess. How did you physically manage that?
Speaker 1 32:11
Well, I was lucky. I could actually say with all those trips, I didn’t have jet lag once. My wife likes to say it was because I was doing holy work. But you get energized, you know, we were on a mission. Jared Kushner, one of his famous sayings was there’s only so many grains of sand in an hourglass. So we were very cognizant of the limited amount of time we had to try to work on this task. So you land, you know you’re there for a good reason. You know your work is. Work to try to help millions and millions of people live better lives. More peaceful, more secure, more prosperous. And then you come home and you collapse in bed for maybe a night until you start earning.
Speaker 2 32:55
Ok, so the subtitle of your book is how Donald Trump made peace in the Middle East and how to stop Joe Biden from unmaking it. So first, I think there’s some people in the administration that don’t even like to use the term Abraham Accords. They don’t want to give you credit. You know, for that. And then you talked about one of the ways that the Biden administration may be threatening the Abraham Accords by cozying up to Iran. Maybe you could elaborate on those issues.
Speaker 1 33:25
Well, at the beginning it’s true about administration. I think it took them almost. Almost a year, or certainly nine months before they would use the term Abraham Accords. It’s another clip on YouTube. I’d encourage your listeners and viewers to Google. Ned Price, the State Department spokesperson, was at a point you know was at the podium. And I forget which journalist kept trying to get him to say the term Abraham Accords because Ned kept using the term normalization agreements. And I’m paraphrasing a little bit, but the journalist kept saying, why won’t you use the term Abraham Accords and Edward? You know, square him and say, well, I’m calling them what they are. They’re normalization agreements. And he kept needling him. And I think by the end, Ned finally used the term very reluctantly after Afghanistan, after the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, I think is when you started to see the Biden administration using the term Abraham Accords and acknowledging that they were a good thing and agreeing to try to make some more progress on the Abraham Accord. So what’s done is done. You know, the they allowed. Politics to cloud progress for a period of time that’s now over. They certainly say the right thing when it comes to the using the concept of the Abraham Accords. But I think that the administration of administration has made many mistakes in the Middle East. I’m not terribly worried about Israel. I think that they’ve done fine with Israel. They’re certainly certain policies that I heavily disagree with. But I’m not worried about the Bond administration abandoning Israel. If I had to name a few, I would say I think it was wrong for President. Ride into visit the East Jerusalem Hospital network without an Israeli presence, because I think that shows that he believes that Israel could and should be divided. Jerusalem rather could and should be divided. Things like that. But those are not major threats. I think, for example, saying that he’ll want to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinians, that’s not only a waste of US taxpayer money, it’s not going to bring peace any closer. And it’s just a it’s wrong, it’s the wrong thing to do. But on an overall basis, I don’t think he’s made major missteps with respect to Israel, but when it comes to some of the Gulf countries, in particular Saudi Arabia for until this trip that he took this summer. I think he treated Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince, with tremendous disrespect. I think it was a huge mistake. I mean he said during his campaign, and I think he meant it, he was going to make Saudi Arabia the pariah, that it was made a lot of very negative public statements. He tried to turn the page on that when he visited Saudi Arabia, gave the Crown Prince a fist pump. But even with that, after that fist pump and that trip, when he thought he turned a corner, I think he still has not stood by Saudi Arabia, embraced it as the friend. An ally of the United States that it should be. Same with the United Arab Emirates, though less so than with Saudi Arabia and others. So I think if he has any hopes of keeping calm and stability in the Middle East, he needs to do a better job with our friends and allies in the Middle East.
Speaker 2 36:34
Do China or and Russia have a position on this? Or are they Abraham accords good for them or bad for them, or neutral for them?
Speaker 1 36:44
I don’t know how they feel about the Abraham Accords per se, but I do think you’re seeing countries in the Middle East embrace China much more so than before because they don’t know what they count on. You know, they went from Obama where they weren’t particularly comfortable, to Trump, where they were extraordinarily comfortable. Under Biden. It’s been a bit of a flip flop back and forth. So separate from the Abraham Accords, I think we’re seeing signs that the Arab countries in the Gulf and elsewhere are starting to grow closer to China. And that’s dangerous when it comes to Russia. Hard to say how Russia feels about the Abraham Accords, but you know, Russia, of course, is not an actor that the United States can rely on. And every close relationship that the Gulf has with Russia, or China for that matter, just means that there’s more potential strain with the United States if we were a more reliable partner to the Gulf. I think you would see different behavior out of the gulf, but I don’t know that I could blame any of these countries when they grow closer to China and Russia, because they don’t know if they could continue to rely on the United States.
Speaker 2 37:50
Which two countries do you think will be next to sign on with the Abraham Accords, and which countries do you think will be the last?
Speaker 1 37:59
Well, answer the second question first. I mean, I don’t know who’s going to be last, but I will say that many of the people tell me that Lebanon and Kuwait will fight with each other for who could be last, and probably some others there as well. And look, I don’t know if that’s true or not, it’s just the sentiment that I get from people in the space. As far as who’s going to be next, I don’t want to. I don’t want to guess. It’s always an impossible thing. Nobody even knew the Abrahamic chords, what happened until they ultimately happened, right? No matter how good the path seemed. But I will say, rather than ask who’s next, what we should pay attention to? Are there so many positive steps that are coming out of the region from all the countries, right, Saudi Arabia, if we want to tackle that one. Saudi Arabia had a very positive statement compared to prior statements when President Trump released the peace to prosperity plan between Israel and the Palestinians. Of course, they remain close and supportive of the Palestinians, but if you look at the language that they used, it’s very different than the language that they’ve used in the past. They then opened. Air card or space between Israel and Bahrain and Israel and the UAE when the Abraham Accords were signed and this summer they opened all their airspace to Israel. Lots of positive things coming out of Saudi Arabia for that doesn’t mean they’re going to sign the Abraham Accords anytime soon. Under today’s circumstances, with what’s going on, how they’re being treated by the bond administration, with the uncertainty of Iran, so many other things, I’m not so sure. But let’s focus on the positive and encourage them. You have Qatar. Israel was welcomed in Doha, you know. Yes, arguably it’s because those were the fee for rules. And yes, there was tension between some Israeli reporters and some Arabs. And understand these are not necessarily people from Qatar, these are Arabs from all over the world. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a positive step, Israeli athletes being welcomed at sporting events over the last number of years that these countries, the Hatikva being played, you know, Bahrain, of course, the signatory to the Amram Accords, welcoming the Israeli President. Oman during President Trump’s time. And I wasn’t the rest. This was probably all BB Netanyahu. Bibi Netanyahu visiting Oman, visiting the late Sultan of Oman. So many positive steps. Hard to predict who’s next.
Speaker 2 40:17
Ok. And then the last question, you wrote about this towards the end of your book. Again the books name is in the path of Abraham. There were proposed pieces of legislation working through Congress to sort of cement the Abraham Accords and have a reporting requirements about progress being made or institutions being established and funded to support the Abraham Accords. Can you say a few words about that?
Speaker 1 40:45
Yeah, look, they’re bipartisan efforts. I strongly applaud them. I hope that they, I don’t know where they are today. I haven’t tracked it over the last number of months. But the Abraham Accords is a bipartisan issue. Everyone, everyone in Congress should be excited about the possibility of more peace, security and stability for the Middle East, about more peace and security and stability for Israel. All of this inures to the benefit of the United States, certainly from our national security perspective. So anybody who wants to who asked me, you know what they can do to help. It’s not just about standing by Israel or standing by our Gulf allies and Morocco. It’s also encouraging members of Congress senators to continue to push the Abraham Accords forward, continue to encourage other countries, if not sign the Abraham Accords, make positive. Progress and steps towards the Abraham Accords. If full normalization is not on the cards anytime soon, that’s OK, I accept that. But there are so many other things that can be done along that path to peace and what I’d like to call, which is why I named the book this way along the path to Abraham.
Speaker 2 41:58
Ok. Well, I think we can end the session here. Like to thank Jason Greenblatt for being very generous with his time and for bringing World peace in the Middle East. It was a real honor to have you with us, Jason. Thank you.
Speaker 2 42:11
Thanks so much for having me.