Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused rival Benny Gantz of drawing up plans for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank while head of the army during 2013-2014 peace talks — a task which Netanyahu reportedly gave Gantz himself.
Retiring Hatnua party leader Tzipi Livni upbraided the premier for his “gall” on the issue, while Gantz’s political partner Moshe Ya’alon said it was part of the prime minister’s “industry of lies.”
Both said Netanyahu had been responsible for the discussions on a future Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, and was now falsely attempting to characterize the issue as one spearheaded by Gantz.
According to a Haaretz report last week, during the 2013-2014 talks held under the auspices of the administration of Barack Obama, Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ya’alon tasked then-chief of staff Gantz with discussing possible security arrangements in the West Bank with US military leaders.
Gantz and US general John Allen reportedly made significant progress in outlining security details in the event of a future Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, as part of a peace accord. When Netanyahu and Ya’alon — who weren’t actually very keen on negotiations — realized the depth and detail to which military officials had gone, they were outraged, Haaretz reported. Ya’alon quickly halted Gantz’s work on the plans.
A video posted by Netanyahu to Twitter on Monday claimed that Gantz “supported the establishment of a Palestinian state and abandoning Israel in the hands of an international force.”
גנץ ניסה להפקיר את ביטחון ישראל בידי כוח רב-לאומי. נתניהו התנגד ובלם את תוכנית הנסיגה שלו.
גנץ – שמאל חלש. נתניהו – ימין חזק. pic.twitter.com/uvApYNE0Mm
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 18, 2019
“Benny Gantz, along with Obama officials, prepared a plan for an almost complete Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. Fact: Prime Minister Netanyahu found out about the plans of Obama officials and Gantz, strongly opposed it, instructed Gantz to stop immediately, and halted Obama’s pressure,” the clip said.
The video made no mention of Ya’alon.
Livni, speaking to Channel 13 news on Monday evening, was indignant at Netanyahu’s suggestion that it was Gantz who had been responsible for the discussions.
“Netanyahu agreed during negotiations with former secretary of state John Kerry and former president Barack Obama — not just agreed but formulated every single letter in the document — that the basis of talks would be the pre-1967 borders, with certain necessary changes,” Livni, who was Netanyahu’s foreign minister at the time, said.
“Today Netanyahu had the gall to accuse Gantz of capitulating to Obama. I was there in the room, and I know exactly what he agreed to. Every letter in that document had been written by him,” she fumed.
“Netanyahu doesn’t have the courage to stand before the public and said ‘This is what’s good for Israel,’ so he says its not him, it’s ‘them.'”
Gantz’s Israeli Resilience party dismissed Netanyahu’s clip as “lies.”
Ya’alon himself later said the video was part of an “industry of lies… I was there. The ‘lefty” who agreed to give up the Jordan Valley and gave the instruction to cooperate with the Kerry-Allen plan was not Benny Gantz but the prime minister.
“Come on, enough is enough,” he said.
Yoaz Hendel, Netanyahu’s former director of communications and public diplomacy and now a member of Gantz’s Knesset slate, issued a cynical retort in which he blamed Gantz for Netanyahu’s previous actions.
“Gantz voted for the [Gaza] disengagement three times and Bibi stopped him,” he tweeted sarcastically, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “Gantz released a thousand terrorist in the  Shalit deal and Bibi stopped him. Gantz ingratiated himself to the Poles, Bibi stood strong.”