President-elect Trump recently named Jason D. Greenblatt, an Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of the Trump Organization who has worked for Mr. Trump for two decades, to serve in the newly-created position of Special Representative for International Negotiations. In this capacity, Greenblatt could end up playing a critical role in issues that will help to determine the level of success of Mr. Trump’s presidency. While has no formal background in foreign policy, Greenblatt possesses something perhaps even more valuable: the trust and confidence of the president-elect earned through many years of loyal service to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Greenblatt, a real estate and corporate attorney who serves as one of Mr. Trump’s chief advisers on Israel and Middle East affairs, is a 49 year old Orthodox Jewish father of six who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey. Raised in Queens, Mr. Greenblatt is a graduate of Orthodox Jewish day schools, the Martha Stern Talmudical Academy, and Yeshiva College. In 1992, he obtained his law degree from New York University. He was a yeshiva student in the mid-1980s at Yeshivat Har Etzion, a yeshiva situated in a West Bank settlement bloc near Jerusalem. Mr. Greenblatt says he was one of the authors of Mr. Trump’s speech to the AIPAC conference in March 2016 and, during the campaign, he wrote op-eds as a surrogate for Mr. Trump’s candidacy.
Many in the media have lumped together Mr. Greenblatt and David Friedman, President-elect Trump’s nominee to be the US Ambassador to Israel, perhaps because they are both observant Jews who also co-chaired Mr. Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee. However, it appears that there are some material differences in the views of Mr. Greenblatt and Mr. Friedman, both as to their substance and to the manner in which their respective views are expressed. Unlike the more controversial Mr. Friedman, those who know Greenblatt well describe him as a soft-spoken, mild-mannered man of faith who runs a parenting blog with his wife Naomi, a psychiatrist who focuses on women’s mental health issues. Their website addresses issues of ethics and integrity and is intended to promote communication between parents and children.
Mr. Greenblatt says that he supports a two-state solution, so long such an agreement is reached by the parties themselves and not imposed by an outside party such as the United Nations. He also supports threatening to withhold some U.S. funding from the Palestinian Authority as a way to get them to come to the table and bargain in good faith, arguing that U.S. negotiators “need to lay down the law and explain [to the Palestinians] that they are not going to get the benefits they get from the United States unless they come to the table.” Mr. Greenblatt believes that Israel’s settlements should stay, but says “… I think they [Israel and the Palestinians] have to work something out so that both sides are able to live in peace and safety.”