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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