- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2020

Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief political rival, confirmed Saturday that he plans to meet with President Trump at the White House next week.

Mr. Gantz, the leader of Israel’s Blue and White party who is currently running against Mr. Netanyahu in the upcoming general election, said that he accepted an invitation to meet Mr. Trump this coming Monday.

“These are fateful times, both for Israel’s borders and character, as well as its democratic fabric,” Mr. Gantz announced on live television. “Therefore, I have decided to accept the invitation extended to me by President Trump and meet with him, in person, this Monday, as the leader of the largest party in Israel.”

Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that both Mr. Gantz and Mr. Netanyahu had been invited to the White House to discuss the prospect of “peace in the Holy Land.”

Mr. Trump told reporters afterward that he planned to release his proposal for a peace deal in the Middle East “a little bit prior” to meeting with Mr. Gantz and Mr. Netanyahu.

“It’s a great plan. It’s a plan that really would work,” Mr. Trump told reporters later Thursday.

Israeli news reports indicated that Mr. Trump is unlikely to meet with both Mr. Gantz and Mr. Netanyahu at the same time, though. The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post each reported that Mr. Trump will hold separate meetings with the politicians on Monday and Tuesday next week.

Mr. Netanyahu, 70, has served as prime minister of Israel since 2009. He risks losing that role come March, however, when Israel holds an unprecedented third election in less than a year. The previous two elections failed to produce a working majority for either Mr. Netanyahu or Mr. Gantz, thus triggering the upcoming contest to be held on March 2.

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