Gantz Departs for Washington for Personal Meeting With Trump on Mideast Peace Deal

Netanyahu leaves for the U.S. on Sunday afternoon, is expected to land in Washington in the early morning hours of Monday

Benny Gantz touring the northern Dead Sea area, January 2020.
Emil Salman

Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief political rival, departed Sunday morning for Washington ahead of his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday.

Gantz and Trump are expected to discuss the diplomatic portion of the U.S. administration's Mideast peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Asked by the Kan public broadcaster whether he will discuss the long-awaited plan with Trump or wait until after Israel's general March 2 election, Gantz replied "We'll hear about the plan from Trump, we'll talk, but what will be said inside the room will remain in the room."

Netanyahu also departed for the U.S. on Sunday at 2:00 P.M. Israel time and is expected to land in Washington in the early morning hours of Monday. Thus, he may still be airborne as some details of the peace plan are revealed by the Trump administration prior to the meeting.

"Five years ago I appeared before congress in Washington because I had to stand up to a plan developed by an American president," Netanyahu said in reference to the Iran nuclear deal signed between former President Barack Obama and Teheran.

"I've believed that plan jeopardized Israel's mere existence. Today I'm headed to bring back a plan, which I believe will advance Israel's interests. On Tuesday we'll make History," Netanyahu said. 

Netanyahu was originally scheduled to meet with Trump on Tuesday. However, after it was announced that Gantz would hold a private meeting with the U.S. president on Monday, a senior Israeli official said the premier would also sit down with Trump on Monday in addition to their audience the day after.

Timeline of peace plan discussions

Meanwhile, Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council in the West Bank, will also take off Sunday to take part in series of meetings with evangelical Christians and Republicans in a bid to gain their support against giving away territory meant for a future Palestinian state.

On Saturday night, the Samaria Regional Council launched a campaign featuring its stance on Trump's peace plan.

According to the campaign, the council "Rules out the establishment of a Palestinian state, will not agree to abandon isolated Jewish communities as enclaves in a territory controlled by a terrorist country, and rejects renouncing Area C and B and further concessions."

The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three parts: Area A, which makes up 18 percent of the West Bank and includes all large Palestinian cities, is under full control of the Palestinian Authority; Area B, which makes up 22 percent, is under civilian control of the PA and Israeli security control; and Area C, which makes up 60 percent, is controlled by Israel and is home to Palestinian communities alongside Israeli settlements.

On Saturday Gantz announced that he had accepted Trump's personal invitation to Washington to discuss the so-called "deal of the century", which is supposed to be officially unveiled on Tuesday.

Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with Trump on Tuesday, however, following Gantz's announcement, senior officials said Netanyahu would meet Trump on Monday as well.