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Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Benny Gantz, the leader of Israel's Blue and White party who is challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in upcoming elections, has accepted President Trump's invitation for a separate, one-on-one meeting at the White House on Monday.

Why it matters: A meeting between the U.S. president and a foreign opposition leader is very unusual. It indicates the importance the White House places on showing Gantz that he is respected and dispelling concerns he's walking into a political trap.

Gantz has few foreign policy credentials, and a meeting with the president of the U.S. is a significant achievement to show voters a month before the elections.

For the record: Two of Gantz's close advisers will accompany him to Washington. Yoram Turbowitz was the chief of staff to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and General Amir Eshel is a former commander of the Israeli air force. Eshel is Gantz’s point of contact with the Trump administration on the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, and he met for many hours with U.S. Ambassador David Friedman about the plan, which Trump said could be released on Tuesday.

What Gantz is saying: In a statement on Saturday, Gantz said the White House plan “will go down in history as a meaningful landmark, mapping the way for different players in the Middle East to finally move ahead towards a historic regional agreement”. 

  • "There is a special long-standing bond between the United States and Israel, built on shared values and joint interests. The United States is Israel's closest ally and friend, and under President Trump's leadership, the alliance between Israel and the United States has grown stronger, deeper and more significant than ever."

How it works: Netanyahu announced he will meet Trump separately at the White House on Monday and Tuesday.

Context: Gantz previously considered turning down Trump's White House invitation when Vice President Pence stated that Gantz was invited on Netanyahu's recommendation.

The big picture: Little more than a month remains before Israel's elections on March 2. Had Gantz rejected Trump's offer, he could've risked alienating the Trump and being seen as a politician who couldn't handle the relationship with Israel's most important ally.

Go deeper: Gantz considers turning down Trump's White House invitation

Go deeper

Updated 34 mins ago - Sports

IOC: Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe"

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus in 2019. Photo: Ivan Romano/Getty Images

Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who sought refuge in Tokyo, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

The latest: Officials in Poland and the Czech Republic have offered to help the 24-year-old sprinter, who refused national team orders to board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's Haneda airport Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Team Italy crosses the finish line ahead of American Fred Kerley in the men's 100m final on day nine of the Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

🚨: IOC "looking into" American Raven Saunders' Olympic podium gesture

🏃🏾: Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs: Reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win" Olympic 100m sprint race.

🥇High jumpers persuade Olympic officials to let them share gold

🏌️‍♂️: Golfer Xander Schauffele wins gold for U.S. by one shot

🤸🏿‍♀️: Simone Biles won't compete in Olympic floor finals, individual vault or uneven bars

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletesTrans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

IOC "looking into" American Raven Saunders' Olympic podium gesture

Team USA's Raven Saunders gestures on the podium with her silver medal after competing in the women's shot put event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee is "looking into" U.S. shot-putter Raven Saunders' gesture on the Tokyo Games podium after she won a silver medal, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told reporters Monday.

Why it matters: Saunders told AP she placed her hands above her head in an "X" formation while on the podium to stand up for "oppressed" people. The IOC has banned protests during the Tokyo Games.