Jan 27, 2020

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.

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.

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Gantz considers turning down Trump's White House invitation

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Benny Gantz, the leader of Israel's Blue and White party and the main political opponent to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is considering turning down President Trump’s invitation to come to Washington next week to discuss the U.S. Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The big picture: Blue and White officials tell me Gantz and his aides are concerned the invitation to Washington is a political trap orchestrated by Netanyahu a little more than a month before the country's elections on March 2.

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Trump to release Mideast peace plan, meet with Israeli leaders

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Israel's embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz have been invited to the White House next week for discussions on President Trump's long-promised Mideast peace plan, Israeli sources say.

Driving the news: Trump said on a flight to Florida Thursday that he's "probably" going to release his Mideast plan "a little bit prior" to the meeting on Jan. 28. The meeting is set for the same time as a planned vote in the Knesset over Netanyahu's bid for immunity from prosecution on corruption charges.

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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.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020