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May 18, 2020 4:08 pm

New Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz Vows Support for Trump Peace Plan ‘With Everything It Includes’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Benny Gantz, head of the centrist Blue and White party, speaks during a swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, May 17, 2020. Photo: Adina Valman / Knesset Spokesperson’s Office / Handout via Reuters.

New Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz vowed on Monday to work toward implementing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan “with everything it includes.”

Speaking at his inauguration ceremony at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, Gantz said, “I am committed to doing everything to advance political arrangements and strive for peace.”

“Peace has been and remains an important Zionist desire,” he added.

At the same event, Gantz’s predecessor at the Defense Ministry, Naftali Bennett, asserted that Iran had begun pulling out of Syria.

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“Iran is significantly reducing the scope of its forces in Syria and even evacuating a number of bases,” Bennett said. “Though Iran has begun the withdrawal process from Syria, we need to complete the work. It’s in reach.”

Earlier on Monday, new Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi — a member of Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party — called the Trump proposal a “historic opportunity,” but also sought to reassure the Jewish state’s neighbors concerned about potential West Bank annexation moves.

The US initiative, Ashkenazi noted, would be pursued “responsibly, in coordination and in dialogue with our neighbors, while maintaining the peace agreements and the strategic interests of the State of Israel.”

Both Egypt and Jordan have formal peace treaties with Israel, and Ashkenazi emphasized, “I see great importance in strengthening strategic ties with Egypt and Jordan as important allies in addressing the challenges in the region.”

He added that he would “promote contacts and cooperation with other countries in the region, in order to strengthen the strategic position of the State of Israel.”

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