PM invites settler leaders to join him in DC for rollout of Trump peace plan

West Bank mayors will stay at same hotel as Netanyahu in order to receive updates in real time on his meetings at White House

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (c) meets with settler leaders in his office on February 25, 2018. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/File)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (c) meets with settler leaders in his office on February 25, 2018. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/File)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited a group of senior settler leaders to join him this week in Washington, where he will meet with US President Donald Trump with the White House slated to roll out its peace plan.

Netanyahu made the offer on Sunday to the chairman of the Yesha settlement umbrella council David Elhayani, who responded in the affirmative and asked to bring along Efrat Local Council chairman Oded Revivi, Binyamin Regional Council chairman Yisrael Gantz and Gush Etzion Regional Council chairman Shlomo Ne’eman, a Yesha spokesman said.

The West Bank mayors will stay at the same hotel as the premier, where they will be able to consult with him in person and receive updates in real time regarding the contents of the White House discussions, the spokesman said.

Separately Sunday, Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan released a statement of his own announcing that he too would be making the trip to DC to closely follow the developments regarding the peace plan. He also said that he had scheduled meetings with Republican party officials and Evangelical leaders in order to convey his opposition to any peace agreement that would allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state, no matter how small or non-contiguous it would be.

Dagan welcomed reports that the Trump proposal would allow for Israeli sovereignty to be extended over all settlements in the West Bank, but said that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state was a “red line.”

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan speaks during a protest against the planned eviction of the outpost of Amona, in front of the Knesset on January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The more-hardline and outspoken Dagan has long operated independently of the Yesha Council, in what one member of the organization of settler mayors said Sunday is part of an effort to “boost his brand.” The Samaria Regional Council chairman, however, is known for his close ties with senior Likud members and has several times managed to rally members of Netanyahu’s party behind the protests he has led against government policy deemed not friendly enough to the settlement movement.

The settler leader who spoke to The Times of Israel said that the Yesha Council holds largely the same positions as Dagan regarding the Trump plan, but stressed that his group wanted to wait until after the proposal was released before commenting.

For his part, Dagan said in a subsequent statement that he welcomed his fellow mayoral colleagues decision to join him in DC.

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu vowed to “make history,” as he boarded his plane at Ben Gurion Airport for his flight to Washington.

“Over the last three years, I spoke countless times with President Trump — a huge friend of Israel — and his team about these vital security needs, about our security, about our justice,” Netanyahu declared. “I will meet with President Trump tomorrow, and on Tuesday, together with him, we will make history.”

US President Donald Trump, right, and visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk along the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The deal, which is expected to be released on Tuesday, has been deemed the most pro-Israel outline for Middle East peace ever presented by a US administration.

Also on Sunday, Netanyahu’s main political rival, Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz, took off for Washington for a separate meeting with the US president on Monday.

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