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Trump's former Mideast envoy to join Israeli venture capital firm, build Israeli-Gulf ties

'I'm hoping to be able to utilise the platform that I have and connect Israel and the Gulf,' Jason Greenblatt says 
Greenblatt speaks to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, center, during news conference at President's Residence in Jerusalem on 22 May 2017 (AFP)

US President Donald Trump's former envoy to the Middle East has accepted a new position with a leading Israeli venture capital firm, where he says he plans to work on building financial ties between Israel and the Gulf. 

OurCrowd, an investment platform that links investors with startups and venture funds, said Jason Greenblatt was hired as a business developer responsible for "building ties with the Middle East," according to a report by the Associated Press. 

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"I'm hoping to be able to utilise the platform that I have and connect Israel and the Gulf in a way to continue the momentum that we've seen over the last three years,” Greenblatt told AP.

Greenblatt was one of the main architects of Trump's recently released plan for Israel and Palestine.  

One of Trump's personal lawyers for more than 20 years, Greenblatt became Mideast envoy in December 2016.

During his tenure, he worked on the controversial plan alongside Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, as well as US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and a few others. He formally resigned in October 2019. 

Cultivating Israeli-Gulf ties

Greenblatt told AP on Wednesday that his work at OurCrowd will focus on cultivating investments from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Bahrain. 

None of the four countries officially recognise Israel as a state, but are among the handful of Middle Eastern powers that have developed secretive relations with Israel in recent years. 

They were also set to be key financial investors in Trump's dead-on-arrival plan for the Middle East. 

Greenblatt said he hopes to expand Israel's ties to the Gulf through his new position. 

"They work together on security to a degree. And, you know, there's enough commerce going on in a small way that leads me to believe we're going to see a bigger impact," Greenblat told the AP.  

'A new world of opportunities'

OurCrowd is an Israeli company that works as a sort of crowdfunding platform, allowing accredited affluent individuals to invest smaller sums in vetted start-ups. The funds are then pooled together with other smaller investors.

Since its launch in 2013, the company says it has raised $1.4bn in assets for 200 companies and 20 funds, most of them Israeli, AP reported. 

The company's founder, Jon Medved, said he expects Greenblatt "to open up a new world of opportunities" for the platform. 

Earlier this month, Greenblatt spoke at OurCrowd's annual conference in Jerusalem. The company said the conference attracted attendees from around the Arab world. 

Greenblatt said he would be based out of New York, but his job "will undoubtedly involve a great deal of travel to the region," AP reported.  

Done deal: How the peace process sold out the Palestinians

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Done deal: How the peace process sold out the Palestinians
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Middle East Eye's "Done Deal" series examines how many of the elements of US President Donald Trump's so-called "deal of the century" reflect a reality that already exists on the ground.

It looks at how Palestinian territory has already been effectively annexed, why refugees have no realistic prospect of ever returning to their homeland, how the Old City of Jerusalem is under Israeli rule, how financial threats and incentives are used to undermine Palestinian opposition to the status quo, and how Gaza is kept under a state of permanent siege.

The Trump plan that Greenblatt worked on was released late last month. Dubbed the "deal of the century", it grants several final status issues, which were previously negotiated with the Palestinian leadership, in Israel's favour – including full sovereignty over the disputed city of Jerusalem and the right to annex all settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In exchange, Palestine would be granted a demilitarised state in the remaining disjointed parts of the West Bank and Gaza, connected by a series of roads, bridges and tunnels. 

Palestinians fully rejected the US's plan even before details were released, calling Washington a biased mediator as news of the deal followed a series of pro-Israeli measures taken by the Trump administration.

Greenblatt said that peace among Israel, Palestine and the broader Arab world "have always gone hand-in-hand", but he hopes he can change that. 

"They're not necessarily always going to go hand-in-hand," he said, explaining that he thinks he can shake up the status quo in the region. 

“If the Palestinians don't engage on President Trump's peace vision, I still think we're going to see movement  between Israel and the region,” he added.

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