Jan 27, 2020

Benny Gantz says Trump peace plan should be implemented after election

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.

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Israel's Netanyahu, Gantz take a break from campaigning to visit the White House

Benny Gantz, Blue and White Party leader. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

The two main contenders in Israel’s March 2 elections — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leader of Blue and White party Benny Gantz — separately meet with President Trump today at the White House to discuss his peace plan, which is expected to be released tomorrow.  

Why it matters: Trump made this unusual move of inviting Netanyahu and Gantz, who is considered a party leader but holds no official position, because he wants to make sure both are on board regarding his peace plan, regardless of who wins the elections.

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Jared's peace plan finally arrives

Jared Kushner speaks on stage as U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman looks on during the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

The Trump administration is expected to release its long-awaited Middle East peace plan on Tuesday, sources familiar with the plan tell me.

Between the lines: The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan has been the most secretive effort inside an extraordinarily leaky administration. Not a single detail has leaked for three years about how the Trump administration will propose to divide territory between Israel and the Palestinians.

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White House urges Netanyahu not to begin annexations after peace plan, sources say

Netanyahu with Jared Kushner. Photo: Getty Images

The White House has made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that it expects him to hold off on any immediate unilateral steps — like annexing parts of the West Bank — after President Trump's peace plan is presented later today, three Israeli and U.S. sources briefed on the matter tell me.

Why it matters: Netanyahu hoped to get a green light from the White House to begin annexations in the West Bank, something that would mobilize his base ahead of the March 2 elections.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020