U.S. Knocks Germany in Row Over Middle East Peace Process

Germany 'completely mischaracterized' peace envoy's tough criticism of U.N.

Jason Greenblatt
Jason Greenblatt / Getty Images
August 13, 2019

The Trump administration is pushing back against recent criticism from German representatives regarding U.S. efforts to foster peace between the Israelis and Palestinians in what sources described as an ongoing diplomatic fight over the American administration's refusal to let the United Nations dictate the terms of the peace process.

Following an unprecedented July 23 speech before the U.N. Security Council in which Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt scolded the body for its one-sided attempts to demonize Israel, Germany's ambassador attempted to mischaracterize the Trump administration official's remarks, sources told the Washington Free Beacon.

Greenblatt's remarks were viewed as a shot across the bow to the Security Council, which has repeatedly attempted to hold Israel responsible for the violence perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists. The U.N.'s one-sided obsessions, Greenblatt said at the time, has done nothing to move the parties closer to the negotiating table.

Trump administration officials view the German ambassador as intentionally taking Greenblatt's remarks out of context by claiming the United States puts no value in UNSCR resolutions.

Greenblatt described this as "a profound and damaging mischaracterization" of remarks that were aimed at highlighting how ineffectual UNSCR resolutions regarding the peace process have been over the years.

The German ambassador's attempts to smear Greenblatt and take his remarks out of context has roiled the Trump administration's Middle East peace team and prompted a fierce pushback, both private and publicly, U.S. officials told the Free Beacon.

In a recent German-language op-ed, Greenblatt called out the German ambassador and sought to set the record straight.

"My colleagues in the White House peace team and I were deeply troubled by the German Permanent Representative's implicit characterization of the United States as believing that might means right," Greenblatt wrote, according to an English-language translation of the piece.

"Following the U.S. intervention, Ambassador [Christoph] Heusgen told our colleagues on the UN Security Council that Germany does not 'believe in the force of the strongest,'" Greenblatt wrote. "With respect, Ambassador, neither does the United States. In our intervention, we clearly stated that a solution cannot be forced upon the parties, and the only way ahead is direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians."

"Our point was that collectively, UN Security Council resolutions passed with the intent of providing a framework for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have failed to create progress," Greenblatt stated, defending his initial remarks. "Moreover, history shows that reflexive reference to these ambiguously-worded, highly controversial resolutions serves as a cloak to avoid substantive debate about the realities on the ground and the complexity of the conflict."

"However, in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, competing interpretations of these resolutions have sparked more disagreement than consensus," Greenblatt wrote. "Further, insisting on the United Nations as the reference point for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while failing to acknowledge the deep, pervasive, anti-Israel bias in the UN system is, speaking frankly, disingenuous."

One U.S. official involved in the peace process told the Free Beacon that the German ambassador, like many diplomats at the U.N., fails to see that one-sided resolutions condemning Israel have done nothing to help foster peace. The Trump administration, the official said, will not be led down the same path of failure as it works to foster peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"The German Ambassador completely mischaracterized Jason's speech immediately afterward in his remarks," the source said, speaking only on background about ongoing diplomatic matters. "The United States continues to believe in the importance of international law and UN resolutions, but the fact remains that on the specific issue of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, these things have not brought about a solution—only direct negotiations between the parties will bring about an end to the conflict."

"It's a completely sensible thing to say, but for UN types, this is jarring, perhaps because they feel it questions their reason for being," the officials said.  "The old-school diplomats at the UN rather stick to conventional thinking and talking points instead of common sense outside the box thinking.  In fact, they are so caught up in their old thinking that they recently could not even bring themselves to condemn Hamas—a designated terrorist group."

Published under: Israel