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January 26, 2020 8:04 pm

Netanyahu Embarks on Trip to Washington to Discuss Israeli-Arab Peace Plan With Trump: ‘We Will Make History’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US President Donald Trump at the White House. Photo:
Reuters / Kevin Lamarque.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he and President Donald Trump “will make history” on Tuesday when they meet to discuss the president’s long-awaited peace plan for the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Speaking on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport just before he left for Washington, DC, Netanyahu referenced his high profile 2015 speech to Congress against then-president Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, saying, “Five years ago, I went to Congress in Washington because I had to face a plan brought by a US president that I believed would jeopardize the interests of the State of Israel.”

“Today I am going to stand alongside a president who brings a plan that I believe promotes our vital interests,” he asserted.

“Trump is a huge friend of Israel,” Netanyahu added. “I talked to him countless times about our security and justness. Tomorrow I will meet with him, and Tuesday together with him we will make history.”

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Netanyahu’s statement echoed a more elaborate statement he issued on social media on Saturday evening, in which he said of Trump’s plan, “An opportunity such as this comes once in history and cannot be missed.”

“Today, we have in the White House the greatest friend that Israel has ever had; therefore, we have the greatest opportunity that we have ever had,” he said.

“For three years, I have spoken with President Donald Trump and his staff about our most vital national and security needs, which must be included in any diplomatic arrangement,” Netanyahu noted. “I have found an attentive ear in the White House to these needs.”

“Therefore, I am full of hope that we are on the verge of a historic moment in the annals of our state,” he said. “I am leaving for Washington with a sense of great mission, of great responsibility and of great opportunity, which will not recur, to ensure the future of Israel.”

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu’s leading political rival, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, also took off for Washington for a personal meeting with Trump on Monday.

Gantz was originally invited to meet with Trump on Tuesday together with Netanyahu, but fearing a political trap and also unwilling to snub the American president, he requested a one-on-one meeting, which the administration granted.

“The plan will go down in history as a significant milestone,” Gantz said on Saturday, according to Israel’s Channel 13.

“The proposal is going to cause major and painful internal disputes among us,” Gantz warned, however. “I pledge to minimize the disagreement, and work to make the proposal a basis for progress toward an agreed settlement with the Palestinians and the countries of the region while continuing and deepening the strategic partnership with Jordan, Egypt, and other countries in the region.”

“We are at a fateful hour to determine Israel’s image and security and political borders,” he asserted.

As did Netanyahu, Gantz thanked the Trump administration for standing at Israel’s side and taking its security needs into consideration “out of friendship and deep commitment.”

Reports in the Israeli media have claimed that the deal will be extremely generous toward the Jewish state, recognizing all of its settlements in the West Bank as sovereign Israeli territory and retaining a united Jerusalem under Israeli control, along with the strategic Jordan Valley border region.

Sources who have seen the map set to be presented to Netanyahu and Gantz have said, “There’s never been anything like it.”

One potential concession from Israel is rumored to be recognition of a Palestinian state. However, it is widely believed the Palestinians will reject the plan sight unseen, giving Israel a “green light” to annex parts of the West Bank without concessions.

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