Gantz faces moment of truth after meeting Trump

January 28, 2020 by David Singer
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Blue and White Party leader – Benny Gantz – could well see his dream of becoming Israel’s next Prime Minister on 2 March implode after meeting with President Trump at the White House this coming week.

It will all depend on Gantz’s reaction to Trump’s long-awaited and eagerly-anticipated Deal of the Century outlining Trump’s plan for resolving the future of Judea and  Samaria (the “West Bank”) and Gaza (collectively the “disputed territories ”).

Trump’s deal represents his personal effort to end the 100 years long-running and unresolved conflict between Arabs and Jews in former Palestine. Trump follows in the footsteps of many other American Presidents whose well-intentioned proposals ended up in the garbage bin of history.

Trump’s plan will be different to previous Presidents proposals in that it will offer Israel the immediate opportunity to extend sovereignty now – with the approval of the Trump administration –  in some designated parts of the disputed territories. This appears to be clear having regard to the following pronouncement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 18 November 2019:

“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”

PLO leader – Mahmoud Abbas  –  has made it abundantly clear that he will reject any Trump proposal that does not result in the Arabs securing sovereignty in every square metre of the disputed territories or an area equivalent thereto with land swaps. This long-stated demand will not be shredded or be open to negotiations.

Gantz, on the other hand, has a real dilemma. His arch-rival – Netanyahu – will accept Trump’s proposal to extend Israel’s sovereignty in any part of the disputed territories- but will Gantz?

Netanyahu has caused consternation in the Gantz camp – having already declared that a Likud-led  Government would apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and every Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria “without exception.”

Gantz’s response has been more confusing  – stating he would extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley “in coordination with the international community.”. In practical terms, this would be most unlikely to ever occur.

Gantz has so far remained silent on whether he would extend Israeli sovereignty to any Trump-designated Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.

The pressure will well and truly be on Gantz the moment he finally emerges from the White House with Netanyahu and Trump to face a White House press conference to discuss the details of Trump’s deal.

Netanyahu will have no choice but to accept Trump’s plan with thanks and a great deal of appreciation – even though it might not be totally acceptable to the Right-wing parties supporting him.

Gantz cannot accept the terms of the Trump plan since he will alienate those Left-wing parties who favour Israel relinquishing all or most of the disputed territories. If he wants to have any hope of becoming Israel’s next Prime Minister – Gantz will need to clearly differentiate his policies from Netanyahu on the disputed territories.

The optics of Gantz rejecting Trump’s specific proposals in front of the world’s media will not make a pretty picture. Trying to graciously accept Trump’s proposals – subject to negotiations between Israel and the PLO or the international community – will stand starkly against Netanyahu grabbing the baton and running with Trump’s proposals to take advantage of an opportunity to resolve the future of a major part of  Judea and Samaria for the first time in the last 100 years  – some might even say 3000 years.

The battle lines for the March Israeli election will be played out in the White House.

Netanyahu could be pulling off another election win.

David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and foundation member of the International Analysts Network

Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article—is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators –  whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog.


2 Responses to “Gantz faces moment of truth after meeting Trump”
  1. Eion Isaac says:

    The Trump offer is unknown but it is trying to combine Jewish Security with allowing Arabs to live creative and peaceful lives in more of what is known to the Palestinians as the West Bank of Palestine and to most Israelis as Judea and Samaria .
    No problem for Gantz with this .
    Only issue is to postpone court case for financial hubris for two years and form a rotation Bibi first but with Likud big shots in USA raising money to compensate Israeli public expenditure especially health .

    • DAVID SINGER says:

      Problem for Gantz is not the Palestinian Arabs – it is the Israeli voters.

      If he lauds Trump plan he will lose a lot of Israeli voters who want no part of Judea and Samaria – part of which Trump will certainly be allocating to Israel.

      If he knocks Trump plan – he will be rebuffing Trump in a US election year. That will alienate more voters who supported Gantz previously.

      Gantz now needs to articulate exactly what his policy on the future of Judea and Samaria will be before Israel’s elections on 2 March. Trump’s decision to release his deal does not allow Gantz the luxury of waffling on in general terms.

      There seems to be a very good possibility that the deadlock caused by the last two elections will be broken this time. For that thank Trump’s decision to release his plan now rather than after 2 March.

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