A Gantz annexation veto turns him into a possible peacemaker

For Gantz it is the peace process itself and the link he makes between regional stability and dialogue.

A view shows the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank February 25, 2020. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
A view shows the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank February 25, 2020.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
The ending of the bitter feud between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz over annexation appeared to end Monday, by bequeathing to both leaders precisely the future mantle they wanted.
While the topic was the annexation of all the West Bank settlements, at issue was their political and diplomatic legacy with regard to the West Bank and the peace process.
Topmost in Netanyahu’s mind is his legacy as the right-wing leader, who 53 years after the end of the Six-Day War, finally envelopes bring the settlement enterprise into Israel’s sovereign borders.
For Gantz it is the peace process itself and the link he makes between regional stability and dialogue.
At issue for them a well, is the time table.
Who will be prime minister at what time? Who their US presidential partner will be and what kind of peace, if any, they can arrive at with the Palestinians.
For Netanyahu, there is no time like the present and with or without Gantz, he has Knesset support for unilateral annexation, about 68 votes out of 120.
In fact, during his more than 14 years in office, there have never been so many factors in his favor when it comes to both maintaining his position as a right wing leader while simultaneously pursuing peace with the Palestinians.
US President Donald Trump has removed almost all of the obstacles that made such a dual pursuit an almost impossible schizophrenic dance. The US peace plan which allows Israel to apply sovereignty over 30% of Area C, prior to any negotiations, effectively divorces the issue of settlements from the peace process.
Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis it was agreed that Israel could apply that sovereignty this year, as soon a joint mapping process had been completed.
The paralyzing impact of COVID-19 on international diplomacy means that if Netanyahu were to move forward now international condemnation would not be as stiff, particularly if coupled with US support. True, the US has not given the green light, but it may do so by July. If the US could allow Netanyahu to annex all the settlements even in advance of completion of the mapping process. This is because any questions around annexation are not about the settlements, but about outstanding issues with regard to the the extent of the territory around them that would also become part of sovereign Israel.
The right-wing has always considered the window of opportunity on the issue of annexation to be narrow and applicable only to this year because of the pending US election in November.
Evangelical support for sovereignty, often credited with driving the US position on the matter, is deemed to be most significant in a pre-election year.
There is also the fear that Trump might not win and that his Democratic successor would set the clock back to the parameters of a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines held under Obama. For Netanyahu, there is no time like the present. 
After that, Netanyahu hopes that he can bend the Palestinian and the Arab world to his will.
But for Gantz, who views himself as a prime minister in waiting, and who is a former IDF Chief-of-Staff, inheriting a peace process in the aftermath of annexation would be some what tantamount to mission impossible.
Unlike Trump, he fears the instability that would follow, particularly with neighboring Jordan. He prefers to make peace in dialogue and holds that such dialogue is only possible if sovereignty is applied through negotiation.
Within that framework, at bare minimum, he wants to see the Jordan Valley and the settlement blocs within Israel’s final borders, but only with international, Palestinian and Arab world agreement. Effectively, it would appear to be mission impossible,  given the international and Palestinian stance that only a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines is acceptable.
But Netanyahu’s agreement with Gantz that he and his party can vote against any annexation plan, opens the door for Gantz to push forward with a peace process in the aftermath of a Trump and a Netanyahu era.
He will be seen as the man who stood against annexation and thus a possible diplomatic partner for a future peace process.
If Netanyahu can wave a diplomatic wand and turn a “non tolerant” US attitude toward the settlements into annexation, than perhaps Gantz wants to follow the same magic trick, and sway the international community and Palestinians to pursue peace in the aftermath of annexation.
It will be a task made easier, particularly if he working together with Democratic regime, for whom his stance for borders that were less than what Netanyahu offered would seem like concessions rather than hard line positions.