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January 27, 2020 4:06 pm

Ahead of Peace Plan Unveiling, Trump Meets With Top Israeli Leaders at White House

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, Jan. 27, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Kevin Lamarque.

US President Donald Trump held separate, back-to-back meetings at the White House on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to discuss his soon-to-be-revealed Middle East peace initiative.

The long-delayed announcement of the details of the plan would take place on Tuesday at noon, Trump said.

“Peace in the Middle East has been long sought for many, many, many years and decades and centuries,” he stated. “And this is an opportunity; we’ll see what happens.”

“We’re going to show a plan that’s been worked on by everybody, and we’ll see whether or not it catches hold,” the president added. “If it does, that’d be great. And if doesn’t, we can live with it, too.  But I think it might have a chance.”

Commenting on Palestinian skepticism toward the proposal, which is reportedly favorable to Israel and its demands, Trump asserted, “It’s something they should want. They probably won’t want it initially, but I think in the end they will. I think in the end, they’re going to want it. It’s very good for them. In fact, it’s overly good to them.”

“Now, without them, we don’t do the deal and that’s okay,” he went on to say.

Sitting next to Trump in the Oval Office, Netanyahu said, “The ‘deal of the century’ is the opportunity of the century, and we’re not going to pass it by.”

The prime minister also thanked Trump for “everything you’ve done for the State of Israel.”

“You’ve been the greatest friend that Israel has had in the White House,” Netanyahu claimed.

Following Netanyahu’s departure, his top rival, Gantz, arrived for his own sit-down with the president.

Gantz, who is seeking to oust Netanyahu from office in the upcoming Knesset election on March 2, tweeted after the meeting, “President Trump, you are a true friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for the warm welcome.”

Later on Monday, Gantz said he had expressed gratitude to Trump for his “deep support” of Israel.

He described Trump’s peace plan as a “significant and historic milestone” and pledged that, as prime minister, he would act quickly to implement, it in coordination with Israel’s neighbors in the region.

One key reason Trump’s plan — spearheaded by his top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner — had remained on ice was the unsettled political situation in Israel. The next national vote will be the Jewish state’s third in the past year, due to the inability of Netanyahu — the chairman of the right-wing Likud party — or Gantz — the head of the centrist Blue and White alliance — to form a governing majority in parliament.

Referring to the impasse, Trump said on Monday, “They are two good competitors. They’re fighting it out. I’ve been waiting now — this is my third election. We keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting. So, let’s go. What kind of a system is that? That’s a very strange system you have over there. Wouldn’t you say that?”

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