Blue&White chairman MK Benny Gantz flew on Sunday morning to meet with President Donald Trump in the White House to discuss the Trump plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The meeting is scheduled for Monday morning and will be closed to the media.
Asked by reporters whether he would be willing to discuss the plan with the Americans now or choose to postpone it until after the March 2 election, Gantz said: “We’re going to Washington to meet President Trump. We’ll hear from him about the plan and exchange ideas with him, but what we do inside the room – we’ll leave inside the room.”
Gantz announced at a press conference Saturday that he accepted Trump’s invitation, and at the end of the meeting with the American president he plans to return to the Knesset for Netanyahu’s immunity hearings.
“I can say that the Trump plan will go down in history as a significant milestone defining the way in which the various parties to the Middle East conflict can step up to a regional and historical agreement,” Gantz said.
He added: “The outline, which is also shared by Netanyahu, may cause big and painful internal disputes. I pledge to limit the disputes to a minimum.”
Gantz also said: “We are at a fateful hour in determining the political and security boundaries of the State of Israel. That’s why I accepted [Trump’s] invitation to meet with him personally as head of the largest party in Israel. At the end of our important meeting, I will return to Israel for discussions regarding Benjamin Netanyahu’s immunity.”
A Knesset committee is scheduled to debate on Monday a request by Prime Minister Netanyahu to be declared immune from the three criminal indictments he is expected to face over breach of trust and bribery. As things stand now, the Knesset is set to reject the PM’s request by a 65 to 55 majority.
Kan 11 reporter Carmel Dangor tweeted Saturday night that an American senior official had told one of the senior leaders of the settlers movement that “you should support the Trump plan now, even if you have reservations about it – because it will be open to changes, and you could push for changes later.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the Trump plan on Saturday, saying: “I have found an attentive ear for all the essential needs that must be included in a political settlement.”
He also said: “This is a once in all of history opportunity and it must not be missed. We have today the White House the greatest friend Israel has ever had, and so we have the greatest opportunity we have ever had.”
Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman was not impressed. He attacked the prime minister at a public event in Ra’anana on Saturday, saying: “Netanyahu is not going to Washington. He is running away from his commitments.”
Liberman noted that the publication of the American peace plan, just five weeks before the election, is “a suspicious matter, to say the least. The mere timing will prevent an in-depth discussion.”
Gantz’s partners in the center-left bloc Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) and Amir Peretz (Labor) were also skeptical about Trump’s plan and the summoning to Washington of Gantz and Netanyahu.
“This is a pre-election gimmick, being presented on the same day when there is a discussion of Netanyahu’s immunity,” Horowitz told Reshet Bet radio.
He added: “When you invite the Israeli prime minister and you don’t invite the PA chairman, then between whom is this agreement? Between Bibi and Gantz?”
Peretz said: “There is nothing serious about this proposal.”
He could be right.