Mar 27, 2020 - World

Trump peace plan a sticking point in Israel's Netanyahu-Gantz pact

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House. Photo: Getty

The implementation of President Trump's Middle East peace plan is one of the main stumbling blocks in negotiations for an emergency government between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rival, Benny Gantz.

Why it matters: The government would be tasked primarily with handling the coronavirus crisis. In negotiations, though, Netanyahu has raised his intention to annex areas Trump's plan envisions as part of Israel. Gantz is opposed to unilateral annexations, his aides tell me.

Between the lines: While Gantz publicly supported the Trump plan, he would prefer to first try to relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians, who bitterly oppose Trump's plan.

  • Gantz is also concerned the deal could jeopardize Israel's peace deal with Jordan, which also opposes annexations.
  • He has demanded that the emergency government maintain the status quo for at least six months, after which they can revisit the issue and try to find a path forward.

What to watch: This issue is unlikely to prevent a deal between Netanyahu and Gantz, but it could lead to a coalition crisis down the road.

  • Netanyahu envisions annexation of the Jordan Valley and West Bank settlements as his main legacy after more than a decade as prime minister.

Where things stand: Trump called Netanyahu on Thursday to congratulate him on the impending formation of his new government. Trump has yet to call Gantz, who under the deal will replace Netanyahu as prime minister in 18 months.

  • It is unclear how closely the Trump administration will engage on the annexation issue, particularly in an election year and while it is dealing with a coronavirus crisis of its own.

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