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Gantz visits the West Bank. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Benny Gantz, the leader of Israel's Blue and White Party, told President Trump in their Oval Office meeting today that he supports Trump's Middle East peace plan but wants to move ahead with it only after Israel's elections on March 2nd.

Why it matters: Gantz is the primary electoral rival for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival and wants a green light from Trump to annex parts of the West Bank immediately after the plan is presented. Gantz indicated major steps should wait until Israel has a new, stable government.

Gantz's meeting with Trump was widely seen as an achievement, given he holds no official position. He had considered skipping the trip to Washington out of fear he'd be sidelined by Trump and overshadowed by Netanyahu.

  • Facing corruption indictments at home, Netanyahu is leaning on his connection with Trump as a reason to re-elect him.
  • The peace plan will play a central role in the coming elections, Israel's third in the span of a year.

What he's saying: Gantz called the plan “a significant and historic milestone."

“Immediately after the elections, I will work toward implementing it from within a stable functioning Israeli government, in tandem with the other countries in our region."
— Gantz

He also said he and Trump discussed “the importance of dialogue with the Palestinians, the neighboring countries and the King of Jordan."

  • The Palestinians have boycotted talks over the peace plan and are expected to emphatically reject it. Trump said earlier today that there could be "no deal without the Palestinians."

The bottom line: Gantz’s remarks show he views Trump's plan as a chance to restart the peace process, but in such a way as to get the Palestinians back to the table and involve the Arab states.

Go deeper

SoCalGas agrees to $1.8 billion settlement for 2015 gas blowout

An evacuee with a Save Porter Ranch sign outside Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon gate in Porter Ranch in January 2016 as the gas leak continued. Photos: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Southern California Gas Company and its parent company announced Monday they've agreed to pay up to $1.8 billion in settlement claims over the 2015 Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility blowout.

Why it matters: Some 100,000 tons of methane, ethane and toxic chemicals poured into the air for 112 days, forcing over 8,000 families to evacuate from their Los Angeles-area homes and sickening many with headaches, nausea and nosebleeds, per the L.A. Times.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

North Korea fires short-range missile to sea, slams "hostile" U.S. policy

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that North Korea's military had fired a short-range missile toward its eastern sea, per AP.

Why it matters: North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations defended the latest launch in remarks to the UN General Assembly, demanding the U.S. and South Korea end their "hostile policy" against the country.

Arizona Judge: Adding mask mandates ban to budget bill unconstitutional

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An Arizona judge ruled Monday that the state's ban on mask mandates in schools, and other measures put into the state budget by Republicans, are unconstitutional, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The sweeping ruling voids a ban on vaccine requirements for public universities, community colleges and local governments, and strikes down some non-COVID-related measures like a ban on teaching critical race theory in classrooms and anti-fraud measures for ballots.