Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue & White party leader Benny Gantz were invited on Thursday to come to Washington on Tuesday next week for the presentation of U.S. President Donald Trump's "Deal of the Century" Middle East peace plan.
Netanyahu received word of the expected invitation from a White House official at the end of the Fifth International Holocaust Forum.
In a joint statement made with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence Netanyahu said he was behind the invitation of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to Washington because he wanted to reach the widest possible consensus in the talks.
"We just completed a conversation about plans for next week," Pence said after meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
"President Trump asked me to extend an invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to come to the White House next week to discuss regional issues as well as the prospect of peace here in the Holy Land," he said.
According to earlier reports, the U.S. plan allows for Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and settlements in Area C. It also allows for a demilitarized Palestinian state, which would include portions of uninhabited and Palestinian spaces in Area C.
A Trump official in Washington said the plan will be presented in the coming days. Another official involved in the matter said the plan was not formulated around Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's position.
The U.S. peace team, headed by special advisor Jared Kushner and special envoy Avi Berkowitz, had been expected to visit Israel on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the plan with Netanyahu and Gantz, but the visit was canceled at the last minute reportedly due to severe weather conditions and a tight schedule.
The flight to D.C. will take place as the Knesset begins to debate Netanyahu's request for immunity from prosecution on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, but Blue & White officials made their position clear that there is no reason to postpone the Knesset procedure.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said there may be risks attached to the Trump plan, "President Trump, Jarred Kushner and Ambassador Friedman are close friends of Israel, which might be facing a historic opportunity, alongside serious risks."
A statement released on behalf of Bennett's party Yamina read, "we will not give up territory to the Arabs or allow the foundation of a Palestinian state, we will address the details of the plan as they come to light."
The head of the Binyamin Regional Council Yisrael Gantz says such a Palestinian state “endangers the state of Israel, the settler community will fight it with all our rights.”
Peace Now organization officials said that “any proposal that does not include the formation of a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders and the evacuation of solitary settlements is a deception that will end up in the dustbin of history.”
In July 2019, the Trump administration published the economic part of the plan in Bahrain.
Neither Israeli or Palestinian officials were present at the presentation.
First published: 19:48, 01.23.20