New Israeli FM Ashkenazi: Trump Peace Plan a Historic Opportunity to Shape Israel's Future

Kahol Lavan's Gabi Ashkenazi says plan 'will be advanced responsibly' and called to safeguard alliance with Egypt and Jordan, while party leader Gantz calls to implement Trump's plan 'with everything it includes'

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Gabi Ashkenazi, February 2020
Gabi Ashkenazi, February 2020Credit: Ilan Assayag
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Israel's new Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast plan is a "historic opportunity to shape the future of the State of Israel for decades to come."

Speaking at ceremony at the Foreign Ministry, Ashkenazi said Trump's plan will be pushed forward "responsibly, in coordination with the United States while safeguarding peace agreements and Israel's strategic interests.""

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Bibi swears in his colossal coalition and readies for a courtroom showdown Credit: Haaretz

The new foreign minister also said he saw improving ties with Jordan and Egypt as greatly important. "They are most important allies in dealing with challenges in the region," he said.

Ashkenazi assumed his new position as Israel's 35th government was sworn in on Sunday.

Party leader and new Defense Minister Benny Gantz also said on Monday he was "committed to doing whatever is needed to advance diplomatic arrangements and to seek peace. Peace was and remains an important Zionist aspiration. At the same time, and for this purpose, we will preserve our power so we can exploit regional opportunities in general and to advance the American administration’s and President Trump’s peace plan, with everything it includes."

On Friday, Jordan's King Abdullah II warned in Germany's Der Spiegel newspaper that if Israel proceeds with annexing Jordan Valley and West Bank territory as part of the Trump administratin's deal, it will lead to a "major clash."  When asked if the move would freeze the peace treaty with Jordan, he said "I do not want to jump to statements and threats, and I will not prepare the ground for confrontation, but we are studying all the options and formulating understandings with many European countries and the international community."

According to King Abdullah, all those leading and calling for a one-state solution do not understand the consequences and do not understand what might happen if the Palestinian Authority collapses, "leading to deterioration and chaos and radicalization in the region."

The U.S. State Department said on Friday that the Trump administration still wants to conduct direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as other regional actors, based on the administration’s Middle East peace plan. Spokeswoman Megan Ortagus added that Israeli moves toward annexation in the West Bank should be discussed in the broader context of direct peace talks.

In reply to Abdullah's comments, Ortagus added that the United States appreciates the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan and wants to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. She added that this the administration wants to bring the sides together for direct negotiations based on its plan.

Israel's 35th government.

Trump unveiled his administration's plan in January. Its main points include formation of a committee to draw up a detailed map as a basis for negotiations; a four-year freeze on Israeli settlement expansion; Jerusalem will be Israel's capital; and the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, beyond the separation barrier. After its unveiling, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that "Trump and Netanyahu declared the slap of the century, not the deal. And we will respond with slaps." 

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