Oct 17, 2019

Scoop: Kushner expected to meet Netanyahu and Gantz on Israel trip

Kushner and Netanyahu. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jared Kushner will travel to Israel during the last week of October, Israeli officials tell me. He is expected to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Benny Gantz, the man seeking to replace Netanyahu as prime minister.

Why it matters: Kushner knows Netanyahu well after their many meetings, but this will be his first meeting with Gantz since his entry into politics. This is another acknowledgement by the Trump administration, which had dealt solely with Netanyahu for two and a half years, that Gantz is a key political player in Israel.

Kushner's visit is expected to come amid efforts in Israel to form a new government following last month's election.

  • He will arrive several days after the Netanyahu’s mandate for forming a government expires on Oct. 23.
  • Assuming Netanyahu fails, as expected, Kushner's visit will likely come after the mandate has passed to Gantz.

Kushner, a senior adviser to President Trump, will arrive in Israel with deputy assistant to the president Avi Berkowitz and Iran envoy Brian Hook.

  • Israeli officials tell me they think the purpose of his visit is mainly to check the pulse on both Gantz and Netanyahu and get a first hand impression of the political dynamics in Israel.
  • It's unclear how much the long-awaited White House peace plan will be discussed during Kushner’s visit. White House officials have said they'll wait for the formation of a new government before deciding whether to publish the plan.
  • The current political turmoil in Israel and the likelihood of yet another election soon make the White House even more cautious about the possible launch of the peace plan.

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Jared Kushner meets Benny Gantz for the first time in Israel

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White House senior adviser Jared Kushner met Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, for the first time on Monday in Jerusalem.

Why it matters: This was the first meeting between Kushner and Gantz, who has 23 days to form a government. It shows that the Trump administration is adapting to the new political reality in Israel.

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Exclusive: Kushner calls on Gantz and Netanyahu to form government

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Why it matters: The fact that Kushner chose to make an unusual move and publicly convey the message — regardless that it has to do with domestic politics in Israel — shows the White House's wish to see a unity government.

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Benny Gantz gets his chance to form Israel's next government

Gantz (L) and Rivlin. Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images

Benny Gantz, leader of the center-left Blue and White party, has been formally granted a mandate to form Israel's next government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed he'd failed to do so for the second time in six months.

Why it matters: This is the first time since 2008 that anyone other than Netanyahu has been asked to form a government. In a speech carried live by all of Israel's TV networks, President Reuven Rivlin referred to Netanyahu as "the outgoing prime minister." Still, Gantz faces long odds of cobbling together a majority.

Go deeperArrowOct 23, 2019