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Lead envoy for Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, to leave White House

Trump signs Golan Heights proclamation

Jason Greenblatt, who had been the Trump administration's lead Middle East envoy as it tries to prepare a plan for lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, is leaving the White House.

Greenblatt had been working closely with Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and a top White House adviser, to deliver a plan that would be amenable to both sides in the region. The plan's release, however, has been delayed several times. 

The president lauded Greenblatt on Twitter.

"After almost 3 years in my administration, Jason Greenblatt will be leaving to pursue work in the private sector," the president tweeted. "Jason has been a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer...His dedication to Israel and to seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians won't be forgotten. He will be missed. Thank you Jason!"

"It has been the honor of a lifetime to have worked in the White House for over two and a half years under the leadership of President Trump," Greenblatt said in a statement provided to CBS News. "I am incredibly grateful to have been part of a team that drafted a vision for peace. This vision has the potential to vastly improve the lives of millions of Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region."

The Trump administration has long touted its peace plan. At the recent G-7 summit, Mr. Trump told reporters that the release of the plan "got complicated by the Israeli elections," but said he thought both sides are "a little tired of fighting." The White House had suggested the plan wouldn't be released until after Israel's elections later this month. 

So far, the administration had teased plans to provide "prosperity to the Palestinian people and across the Middle East" through a proposed $50 billion investment over the next 10 years. The White House quietly rolled out its "Peace to Prosperity" plan earlier this summer as the first phase in its "new, ambitious, but achievable vision for a brighter, more prosperous future for the Palestinian people and broader Middle East." 

A senior administration officials said Greenblatt has decided to return home to New Jersey to be with his wife and six children. The senior administration official said Greenblatt has been "instrumental" in helping reframe discussions about the conflict.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was less positive about the state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, saying U.N. leaders had repeatedly expressed "frustration ... at the lack of progress, of dialogue between the two parties." But he added, "We look forward to continuing to engage with the U.S." on the issue.

-Pamela Falk contributed reporting from the United Nations

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