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Jason Greenblatt. Photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images

White House special envoy for the Middle East peace process Jason Greenblatt will be leaving the Trump administration in the next several weeks to return to the private sector.

Why it matters: Greenblatt is a key member of the White House Middle East "peace team," which consists of Jared Kushner, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Kushner deputy Avi Berkowitz. In June, the White House rolled out the economic component of its peace plan. It has yet to reveal the political component due to upcoming Israeli elections.

Behind the scenes: A senior U.S. official said Greenblatt will stay at the White House another few weeks until the launch of the political side of the peace plan, which is expected shortly after the Israeli elections on Sept. 17. The U.S. official said Greenblatt’s decision was mainly for personal and family reasons. He said Greenblatt was supposed to serve for 2 years on the White House peace team, but ended up serving almost 3.

  • The official said that the White House peace team began discussing at the end of 2018 how to phase in Greenblatt’s departure.
  • After Greenblatt leaves, most of his assignments and authorities will be transferred to Berkowitz, who was a main player in drafting the White House peace plan and has worked side by side with Greenblatt since January 2017.
  • Some of Greenblatt’s assignments will be transferred to U.S. special envoy for Iran Brian Hook and Friedman.  

What they're saying:

  • Greenblatt:
"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. 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. I would like to thank my incredible wife Naomi and my amazing six children for their strength and encouragement. I will thoroughly miss working with my friends and colleagues Jared Kushner, David Friedman and Avi Berkowitz, as well as the many other dedicated individuals within the US government who were instrumental in our efforts.”
  • Kushner:
"Jason has done a tremendous job leading the efforts to develop an economic and political vision for a long sought after peace in the Middle East. His work has helped develop the relationships between Israel and its neighbors as he is trusted and respected by all of the leaders throughout the region. He is a close friend and partner and will continue to make a positive impact on the world."
  • Friedman:
"It’s been a tremendous privilege to work with Jason these past few years on the critical tasks of repairing and strengthening the US-Israel relationship and seeking peace and stability within the Middle East. Jason has been a trusted friend and a valued colleague who has touched so many with his wisdom, sincerity and good will. He has made an enormous and indelible contribution which we will seek to build upon as we move forward."
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
"I wish to thank Jason Greenblatt for his work for peace and security and for speaking the truth about Israel in front of all those who bash it."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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