Two days after his boss left Israel for Rome, Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s Middle East adviser, was back in the region. On Thursday, Greenblatt met with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. According to PA sources, the primary topic in the discussion was the ongoing hunger strike by terrorists being held in Israeli prisons.
Sources told Channel Two that Greenblatt intends to begin laying the framework for the next round of discussions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with President Trump deciding to go ahead with another round of American-sponsored talks after his visit to Yerushalayim and Bethlehem this week. Abbas, the report said, is ready to talk, and will not even demand a building freeze on Israeli construction in Yehudah and Shomron. However, he is demanding that “something” be done to end the hunger strike, which, Channel Two said, is hurting Abbas politically, as Hamas points to his ineffectiveness in achieving the terrorists’ demands.
The hunger strike will soon enter its seventh week, with prisoners ostensibly refraining from eating, although most are drinking water. The terrorists who are participating in the strike have made over a dozen demands, including better and more food, more visits with relatives, and more visits from international medical groups like the Red Cross, which the terrorists are demanding be allowed to visit them twice a month. Most significant for them, security officials say, is the demand that public phones be installed in prisons to allow terrorists to contact families. Representatives of the terrorist prisoners say that the phone calls would not entail a security risk, as they would be monitored by Israel. The entire impact, they say, would be “humanitarian.”
Greenblatt is set to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as well. If he brings up the prisoner issue, it will be one of the first times the United States has intervened in the matter, Channel Two noted.
Greenblatt also met with the parents of missing IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, Leah and Simcha Goldin. Greenblatt said that Hamas’ refusal to release the body of Goldin is “inhuman,” and that Hamas was ghoulishly using the remains of the soldier to “extort” Israel. Greenblatt expressed his “hopes and prayers” that Goldin’s remains would be released, the NRG news site said. Goldin was killed in a rescue mission at the entrance to a Hamas terror tunnel during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, as he attempted to protect IDF soldiers from a Hamas attack.