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Benny Gantz. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

Benny Gantz, the leader of Israel's Blue and White party, said Wednesday during a party meeting that the release of the Trump administration's Israeli-Palestinian peace plan ahead of the country's March 2 elections would be "a harsh interference in the electoral process in Israel."

Why it matters: Gantz, the main political opponent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, issued his statement a day after he met President Trump’s envoy Avi Berkowitz — with whom he discussed the long-awaited peace plan. The remarks are a sign that Blue and White fears the Trump administration might try to use the timing of the plan's release to boost Netanyahu’s campaign as it did before last April's elections.

  • The White House has already postponed the plan's release twice due to Israel's elections last April and September.

What he's saying:

"The contact with the Americans is good and important. I can’t elaborate on what was discussed with the U.S. envoy Berkowitz. I can assume that in such an important issue [the release of the peace plan] the Americans will be very careful and would not publish it before the elections — because such a move would be a real and harsh interference in the electoral process in Israel. But obviously they are dealing with many other important issues, and I will not tell them what to do”.
— Gantz, at the start of Blue and White's press conference on Wednesday

The big picture: Gantz’s aides refused to say whether he conveyed this message in his meeting with Berkowitz yesterday. "We respect the Americans and don’t want to discuss what was said in private," one Gantz aide told me.

Go deeper: Israeli officials believe U.S. may release peace plan before election

Go deeper

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Why it matters: That puts us on track to hit President Biden's goal of 100 million doses a month ahead of schedule.

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The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing the Senate clerk to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, a procedural move that will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate.

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Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

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Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.