Gantz says if elected, he expects White House to delay peace plan roll-out

Netanyahu’s main election challenger says his future government will seriously consider any US proposal — after he forms a ruling coalition

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz speaks at a campaign event in Tel Aviv on April 8, 2019. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz speaks at a campaign event in Tel Aviv on April 8, 2019. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz said Monday that if he wins Tuesday’s general election, he expects the Trump administration to delay the roll-out of its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan until after he forms a government.

“I expect the American administration to see that I won the elections, and to hold off with their plans until I can form a government,” Gantz said in an interview with the Walla news site. “After that, we can sit down and discuss the plan in an organized and orderly way.”

He promised to seriously consider whatever the US proposed for the region, and said he hoped the White House had not already given Netanyahu details of its long-awaited plan.

Gantz steered clear of questions about US President Donald Trump and Netanyahu’s apparently close personal relationship, and comparisons of their leadership styles.

“In that sense, [Trump] doesn’t occupy my thoughts,” he said. “I very much appreciated him for moving the embassy and in his support against the Iranians.”

“Israel has no other America, and we need to be aware of that,” Gantz said.

Gantz went on to accuse Netanyahu of “damaging [Israel’s] important ties” with US Jewry in recent years, and if elected, vowed to “set it right.”

“I know Netanyahu well, and he is not a racist, he is a Zionist and a liberal, but he is behaving this way out of personal and legal considerations,” Gantz said.

US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Washington is expected to unveil proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace some time after Tuesday’s election, in which Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term.

Netanyahu, running for re-election while facing the possibility of indictment on corruption charges, has cited his close relationship with Trump to underline his experience as a statesman with personal ties to world leaders.

In the run-up to Tuesday’s vote, the prime minister has hosted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, visited Trump in the White House and received both American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and, on Monday, a US designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terror organization.

Last week, Netanyahu said he had informed Trump not “even one person” would be evicted from a settlement under any US peace plan.

On Saturday, Trump struck a cautious tone about the outcome of Tuesday’s vote, saying the “close” race for the premiership was between “two good people.”

The latest polls place Netanyahu and Gantz neck-and-neck, but give the former the advantage in his ability to form a coalition government.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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