Netanyahu First, Then Gantz: Trump to Host Leaders to Discuss Peace Plan

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will meet on Monday with the leaders of Israel’s two largest parties at the White House, as he prepares to present the administration’s Mideast peace plan.

Trump will host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at 11 A.M. before meeting with Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz, Netanyahu's rival in the upcoming March election, at 12:30 P.M. The meeting with Netanyahu is scheduled to last for over an hour, while the meeting with Gantz is scheduled to last between 30 to 45 minutes.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 58

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 58Haaretz

The meeting with Gantz will be unusual for several reasons. It will be the first time that an Israeli politician who holds no official role in the government holds personal meeting with the American president during an election campaign. In addition, it will be held without any involvement from the Israeli embassy in Washington. Trump and Gantz have not met before, but the former military chief of staff has been in the White House previously, as the military attaché in Washington.

After another meeting on Tuesday at 12 P.M., Netanyahu and Trump are set to hold a joint press appearance, during which details of the administration’s plan are expected to become public. The official White House schedule does not include the names of other participants in that joint appearance, but Israeli news outlets reported over the weekend that the administration is trying to recruit the foreign minister of at least one Arab country to attend, most likely a country in the Gulf region.

The White House hope was that if Trump could get the support of both Netanyahu and Gantz for the plan, it would help provide some momentum. A U.S. official said Trump wants to know both Netanyahu and Gantz are on board with the plan before announcing it.

Trump’s message to both: “You have six weeks to get this (plan) going, if you want it,” the official said.

Having both leaders present helps take the politics out of the effort, said a U.S. source familiar with internal deliberations.