Israeli settler leaders to join Netanyahu in Washington for Trump talks

Netanyahu will meet with Trump on Monday and Tuesday.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett (left) and YESHA head David ElHayani (photo credit: MIRI TZAHI/COURTESY OF THE YESHA COUNCIL)
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett (left) and YESHA head David ElHayani
Four major settler leaders plan to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington to receive information on US President Donald Trump's peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, known as the "Deal of the Century."
Netanyahu will meet with Trump on Monday and Tuesday. Yesha head and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David ElHayani will join Netanyahu's entourage. Elhayani will be accompanied by Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne'eman, Binyamin Regional Council head Yisrael Ganz and Yesha foreign envoy Oded Revivi, who is also the Efrat Council head.
They will not be in the White House, but will be briefed by Netanyahu in real time.
These leaders have been supportive of Netanyahu's efforts, even though earlier Sunday ElHayani spoke of his opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state, such as the one that is expected to be part of Trump's peace plan.
Samara Regional Council head Yossi Dagan is also flying to Washington but will not be joining Netanyahu.
Dagan will be meeting with evangelical leaders as well as with Republican congressmen to help set red lines for the plan, which he fears will include the creation of a Palestinian state and emphasize the settlement blocs over the isolated ones.
He is one of the few settler leaders to publicly oppose the plan prior to its publication. Already on Saturday night, he announced the start of a campaign with slogans that state, “no to a terror state” and “no to a plan of the blocs.”
Dagan is fearful that Trump’s plan separates between the settlement blocs and the isolated ones, and in particular would create untenable Israeli enclaves.
His office would not divulge any information about the meetings.
“Sovereignty must be applied to all the settlements, and a Palestinian state must be removed from the negotiating table,” Dagan said.
He argued that all of Area C of the West Bank should remain under Israeli sovereignty and that none of it should be placed under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.
There is initial speculation that the plan would place 70% of the West Bank under PA auspices and allow for Israeli sovereignty over the other 30%.
Some 40% of the West Bank is now under the auspices of the PA, while 60% is in Area C, which is under Israeli rule.
“The plan is an important and historic plan,” Dagan said.
“We should commend US President Donald Trump and especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is leading this important and strategic diplomatic push.”
This has included the US recognition of the legality of West Bank settlements, as well as the placement of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank on the negotiating table, he said.
The White House is expected to release details of the plan this week, possibly before Trump’s meetings with Netanyahu.
Trump’s decision to publish the plan now has been met with criticism in Israel, with political pundits and politicians charging that the president is interfering with the elections.
Revivi defended publication of the plan prior to the elections, noting that it turned the elections into a referendum on the plan.
“Releasing a plan now will give the Israeli public a say – critical for the success of any peace plan.  Each party will assess the plan,  offer their response.  And the Israeli public will have their response in six weeks,” he said.
Opponents of the plan’s release at this time “are actually fearful that the major parties will embrace so many aspects of the Trump vision… thereby demonstrating that the Israeli public has completely moved on from the failed thinking of the last several decades,” Revivi said.
"The release of this plan has the chance to inject the Israeli elections with much more relevance, and really give the Israeli public a say in the process,” he said.