President Trump on Thursday announced the departure of Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt from his administration as he commended the diplomat for his efforts to pursue peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Greenblatt, a former Trump Organization lawyer, has served as the president’s special representative for international negotiations and was tasked with developing a Middle East peace plan.
“After almost 3 years in my Administration, Jason Greenblatt will be leaving to pursue work in the private sector," Trump said. "Jason has been a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer."
The president continued, “His dedication to Israel and to seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians won’t be forgotten. He will be missed. Thank you Jason!”
A senior administration official said Greenblatt has decided to return to New Jersey to be with his wife and six children.
"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. "I am incredibly grateful to have been part of a team that drafted a vision for peace."
Greenblatt worked in concert with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, on the Middle East peace plan.
"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," Kushner said. "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."
But Greenblatt's departure casts further doubt on the future of the administration's plan.
The White House says the plan is complete but will not be released until at least after this month's Israeli elections. The plan already is facing rejection by Palestinian officials, who object to strengthening ties between the U.S. and Israel.
Greenblatt advocated for decisions to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights — moves that drew skepticism from Palestinians and Arab nations.
Apart from securing the tacit support from some Gulf Arab states, the team's main visible accomplishment has been the release of an ambitious $50 billion economic proposal for the West Bank, Gaza and Palestinian communities in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
Greenblatt's role is expected to be assumed by Kushner aide Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran.
Fox News' Ben Evansky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.