(January 27, 2020 / Israel Hayom) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz landed separately in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening, ahead of their meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, Trump is expected to officially unveil the full version of his administration’s much-anticipated Middle East peace plan. The Israeli defense establishment is preparing for possible Palestinian unrest following the plan’s release.
Moments before boarding his plane at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said: “Five years ago, I went to the U.S. and to Congress because I was forced to contend with a plan presented by an American president [Barack Obama], because I believed it would pose a threat to the State of Israel’s vital interests, essentially its existence. Today, I’m leaving for Washington to stand alongside an American president who is presenting a plan which I believe advances our most vital interests.”
Netanyahu went on to say that “over the past three years, I have had countless conversations with President Trump, a great friend of the State of Israel, and with his staff, about Israel’s vital interests, about our security and about our righteousness. We are in the midst of very dramatic political events, but the peak is still ahead. I am going to Washington with a great sense of purpose, great responsibility and a great chance, and I am hopeful we can make history.”
Accompanying the prime minister were Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Lavin, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Downplaying the plan in Gaza
In recent days, the Israeli defense establishment has held multiple security assessments regarding the implications of the U.S. plan’s release.
The Palestinians, claiming the White House is unfairly biased towards Israel, have already said they won’t accept the plan. On Sunday, the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry called for a “clear international declaration” rejecting the U.S. proposal.
“No single Palestinian would accept this plan, and the Palestinian leadership will defeat it as they have done with similar plans,” said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas.
At present, beyond the Palestinian threats, Israel’s security agencies haven’t seen any particular groundswell of support for violence.
Hamas, according to Israeli security assessments, is largely ignoring the Trump plan, and no one in the terrorist organization is taking seriously declarations that Gaza would be demilitarized and Hamas disarmed under the plan.
It’s possible that recalcitrant terrorist groups in Gaza will launch intermittent rocket attacks against Israel in an effort to heighten tensions. The Israeli military has said it is prepared for such a development, and that Israel’s air-defense systems have already been deployed as a matter of routine in the Gaza sector.
The working assumption is that the P.A. will look to counter the Trump plan through diplomatic means only.
Channel 13 News reported on Sunday night that the White House was considering inviting Arab ambassadors to the unveiling of the peace plan.
Very little is known, as of now, about the outlines of the peace plan and what both sides will be asked to concede.
Trump first announced his so-called “deal of the century” immediately after he was voted into office in 2016, in an interview by The New York Times on Nov. 23.
In an interview with Israel Hayom in June 2019, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said, “In the ‘deal of the century,’ Israel’s security is above all else. The role of Arab states is to tell P.A. President [Mahmoud Abbas] that the way to improving the Palestinian situation is to come to the negotiating table.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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