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A banner for Gantz (right) near one of Netanyahu and Trump ahead of September's elections. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Benny Gantz, leader of Israel's Blue and White Party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top political rival, backtracked today on his request that President Trump not release his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan before Israel's March 2nd elections.

Why it matters: This removes a major obstacle to the plan's release. The shift seems to be based on a calculation that if Trump were to release the plan in coordination with Netanyahu, and against his wishes, Gantz would appear to lack influence in Washington.

Catch up quick: U.S. and Israeli officials expect Trump to decide within days whether to release the plan before March, as I reported on Sunday.

  • Gantz had previously said releasing the plan — which Netanyahu could use to rally his base — would constitute interference in Israeli politics.
  • But during a visit to the Jordan Valley in the West Bank today, Gantz justified his flip flop: "Three weeks have passed and a lot of dramatic things have happened in the Middle East — so I hope the president presents his plan soon."
  • Gantz also said for the first time that he would annex the Jordan Valley if elected, “in coordination with the international community" — a sign he is courting right-wing voters. Annexation of the Jordan Valley is a pillar of Netanyahu's platform.

Netanyahu was quick to respond, issuing a statement calling on Gantz to pass a vote on annexation in the Israeli parliament before the elections. That would be legally questionable, as the Knesset has been dissolved.

Go deeper

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Podcasts

Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck

President Biden has said that getting Americans vaccinated for COVID-19 is his administration’s top priority given an initial rollout plagued by organizational, logistical and technical glitches.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the bottlenecks and how to unclog them with Carbon Health chief executive Eren Bali, whose company recently began helping to manage vaccinations in Los Angeles.