Trump consults with Gantz following Netanyahu meeting

The American president remained upbeat about the White House Mideast peace plan before a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief rival Benny Gantz.

By Associated Press

President Donald Trump on Monday met with Benny Gantz shortly after his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The American president and Israeli leaders met prior to the White House’s release of its Mideast peace deal, which will be officially revealed on Tuesday.

The meetings come just a month before Netanyahu and Gantz are set to face off in national elections for the third time in less than a year and amid much speculation over whether the plan has any chance for success since the Palestinians have boycotted the White House for two years.

At a press conference prior to Gantz’s meeting with Trump, Netanyahu hailed the “Deal of the Century” as a chance to “make history” and define Israel’s final borders.

In the run-up to the March 2 vote, Netanyahu has called for extending Israeli sovereignty over all Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, a move Gantz signaled he would also support, with several caveats.

While the Palestinians soundly rejected Trump’s plan, prior to its release and without seeing its contents, the president expects they will quietly be negotiating.

“It’s something they should want,” Trump said in the Oval Office with Netanyahu. “They probably won’t want it initially. I think in the end they will. I think in the end they’re going to want it. It’s very good for them.”

He called it a “suggestion” for Israel and the Palestinians and then referred to the long-awaited plan as a “very big plan.” At the same time, Trump hinted that he knows the Palestinians might not accept it.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “Without them, we don’t do the deal. That’s OK. … We think that there is a very good chance that they’re going to want this.”