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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.

Details: Trump is to meet with Netanyahu first, at 11 a.m., and then with Gantz at 12:30 p.m. VP Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, senior adviser Jared Kushner and other Trump aides are expected to attend both meetings.

The intrigue: As Trump unveils his peace plan on Tuesday, the Israeli Knesset will vote on forming a special committee to strip Netanyahu from his immunity due to his indictments.

  • Netanyahu’s hearing at the committee is expected to start on Thursday.
  • Gantz said he will return to Israel right after meeting with Trump to lead the efforts on stripping Netanyahu from his immunity.
  • Gantz has a majority in the Knesset to do just that.
  • Gantz wants the next few weeks of the campaign to focus on Netanyahu’s fight for keeping his immunity against trial.

What's next: Netanyahu will stay in Washington until Wednesday evening. He'll meet Trump again Tuesday for plan's release.

  • Netanyahu wants Trump to green light immediate annexation of the West Bank right after the release of the White House peace plan.
  • Netanyahu hopes this will shift the campaign from his legal situation to an annexation agenda that will mobilize his right wing base and raise the chances of him winning the elections.

Of note: Gantz does not support unilateral annexation steps in the West Bank. He has already announced his support for the Trump peace plan but said it should be implemented only after the March 2 elections and the formation of a new government.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

28 mins ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

14 hours ago - Economy & Business

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.