Netanyahu says he and Trump will ‘make history’ this week

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading to the US to meet with President Donald Trump to discuss the "Deal of the Century."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, board a plane to the US, January 26, 2020. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, board a plane to the US, January 26, 2020.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
US President Donald Trump’s peace plan will advance Israel’s interests, a confident Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday before boarding a plane to Washington for what he predicted would be a historic meeting with Trump.
“I am going to Washington to face an American president who is bringing forward a plan that I believe will advance our most vital interests,” Netanyahu said. “During the last three years I spoke countless times with Trump – who is a great friend of Israel – and his team,” Netanyahu said.
During those conversations he discussed Israel’s vital interests, its security and the issue of justice, Netanyahu said.
He recalled the time he had traveled to the US under very different circumstances, to hold a speech in Congress to argue against former US president Barack Obama’s Iran deal. It was a plan that he felt endangered Israel’s very existence.
The circumstances have now changed when it comes to Israel’s future,Netanyahu said.
“I am meeting with President Trump tomorrow, and on Tuesday, together with him, we will make history,” he stated.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman joined Netanyahu on his flight.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz will also have a one-on-one meeting with Trump on Monday, and he left for Washington earlier Sunday on a commercial flight with a stopover in Zurich.
An invitation had originally been extended to Netanyahu and Gantz to meet together with the president, but Gantz and his advisers opposed the idea for political reasons. The Blue and White leader said on Saturday night that he had now accepted an invitation to meet with Trump alone.
The long-delayed Trump peace plan, expected to be extremely generous to Israel, was drawn up by the former special envoy Jason Greenblatt, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Friedman.
Some of the expected details of the plan, according to KAN, are that Israel would maintain control of Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, which includes the Western Wall, while some of the Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem would be part of a future Palestinian state.
Israel will be able to annex 30% of the West Bank, including all the settlements in Area C and the entire Jordan Valley, according to KAN. However, Israel will have to evacuate illegal outposts, and give the Palestinians land in exchange for the annexed areas.
A demilitarized Palestinian state would be formed on the other 70% of the land. Gaza would also have to be demilitarized. Israel will also have freedom of military action in the Palestinian state.
The Blue and White leader will meet with Trump in the White House at 12:00 noon to discuss the details of the plan, which is expected to be released in the coming days. The meeting will be closed to the press but Gantz will give a briefing to the press at his hotel shortly afterwards. He will leave to the airport to fly back to Israel at 15:30 so as to be present during hearings in the Knesset on Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution.
“We are in the critical hour of designating the national and security border of the State of Israel,” Gantz said in a speech on Saturday night before he headed out to the US capital. “That is why I responded to his invitation to meet with him personally as the head of the largest party in Israel.”
The Blue and White leader, who has heard many of the details of Trump’s plan, said it could be a “significant milestone” in defining a path to resolving the Israel–Palestinian conflict, but also that the president’s plan could be “the basis of an agreed-upon accord with the Palestinians and regional states,” a possible acknowledgment of the deep hostility of the Palestinians to the proposals.
Accompanying Gantz on his trip is Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel, a former Israel Air Force commander who has been serving over recent months in an advisory capacity to the Blue and White leader on the American peace plan, and as a liaison to the American government on his behalf.
Gantz is also taking Yoram Turbowitz, a member of Blue and White’s strategic team, as well as by Maayan Cohen Israeli, his chief of staff.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Blue and White MK Chili Tropper said it appeared there were some good aspects of the peace plan for Israel, but demurred from commenting on it until the details are fully released.
Asked if Blue and White can agree to a Palestinian state if the Trump plan calls for it, Tropper said the party was first and foremost “concerned with the security of Israel,” and that any further comment must wait until it is clear what kind of entity is envisioned in the forthcoming proposals.
Blue and White includes a diverse array of politicians across the political spectrum, although Gantz is the driving force in its decision-making mechanisms, in consultation with the so-called “cockpit” of Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi.
The MK also said the fact that the Palestinians have already rejected the plan must be taken into account.
“You cannot ignore the fact that there have been proposed plans which have been far more generous to the Palestinians which they have also opposed,” said Tropper.
It is thought that there are contingencies built into the plan in the event that the Palestinians reject it outright, which might include allowing Israel to take unilateral steps, such as annexing settlement blocs or the Jordan Valley.
Gantz is wary of using the terminology “Palestinian state” but sources say he believes some sort of Palestinian entity should be established, with some form of autonomy, as long as Israel’s security concerns are met.
The Blue and White campaign is not unduly worried about the introduction of the Trump peace plan and believes the focus of the elections will swing back quickly to domestic issues, Netanyahu’s immunity request and the criminal complaints against him.
Tovah Lazaroff and Tamar Beeri contributed to this report.