Mideast Peace Plan Proposal Brings Netanyahu, Chief Rival to White House
WASHINGTON – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief political rival met separately with President Donald Trump Monday ahead of the administration’s unveiling of its highly-anticipated plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Netanyahu first, holding a meeting that was closed to the press shortly after 11 a.m. The meeting with Israeli politician Benny Gantz, also closed to the press, followed at 12:30 p.m.
Trump and Netanyahu are scheduled to deliver joint remarks at the White House Tuesday afternoon.
Heading into the meetings some questioned how much could be achieved. The Palestinians have already rejected the deal without being consulted.
The meetings came as Trump’s impeachment trial resumed in the U.S. Senate and the Israeli Parliament holds a hearing to discuss Netanyahu’s request for immunity from criminal corruption charges.
Netanyahu said he suggested the White House invite Gantz in a show of unity ahead of the peace deal announcement. However Gantz has said publicly he suspects Netanyahu’s motive, and requested the separate sessions with the president.
Netanyahu made no mention of his legal woes or Gantz as he left Israel on Sunday.
“We are in the midst of very dramatic political events, but the peak is still ahead,” he said. “I am going to Washington with a great sense of purpose, great responsibility and great chance, and I am hopeful we can make history.”
After two inconclusive elections last year, Netanyahu and Gantz are engaged in a tight race ahead of the March 2 vote that once again is seen as a referendum on the long-time Israeli leader.
Gantz has focused his campaign on Netanyahu’s legal problems, saying he is unfit for office. Netanyahu has sought to portray himself as both a close friend of Trump and a global statesman uniquely qualified to lead Israel through difficult times.
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