Vice President Mike Pence extended invitations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political challenger Benny Gantz to visit Washington next week to discuss a Middle East peace plan formulated by President Donald Trump.
Vice President Mike Pence announced the invitation in a tweet on Thursday while visiting with Netanyahu in Israel. Pence said it was Netanyahu who suggested extending the invitation to Gantz, as well.
On behalf of President @realDonaldTrump, I’ve invited Prime Minister @netanyahu to the @WhiteHouse next week. At the Prime Minister’s suggestion I’ve also extended the invitation to @gantzbe the leader of the Blue & White party, & I’m grateful he has also accepted the invitation. pic.twitter.com/ypfS6364fI
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) January 23, 2020
Pence revealed both Netanyahu and Gantz had accepted the offers to speak about issues in the Middle East as well as the prospective peace plan.
Details of the peace plan have not yet been revealed.
The effort to extend the invitation to both leading candidates in the upcoming Israeli elections may be a measure to politically benefit Netanyahu, according to the Washington Post. Israel is bound for its third election within a year’s time after both Netanyahu and Gantz failed to form a majority government in the last election round.
The Trump administration first released proposals for an international investment effort in Palestine and other areas in the Middle East. In July, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner proposed $50 billion in investments in Palestine to precede a full peace plan.
Kushner was selected within months of the start of the Trump presidency to begin working out the details of a Middle East peace plan and in December, Trump reportedly told a conference of conservative Jewish supporters that “If Jared Kushner can’t do it, it can’t be done.”
Kushner has said the deal would require some concessions from Israel that it may not like, though the Trump administration has already made some moves to signal support for Israel, such as moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
“I think that the president is seeking to give Israel the peace and security it deserves,” Netanyahu said at the time he accepted the invitation.
Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian Ambassador to the United Kingdom and former ambassador to the U.S. said: “Israel must end its occupation of Palestinian land that began in 1967 including East Jerusalem and a just resolution to the issue of refugees in accordance with international resolutions.”
Thus far Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has not joined the effort to negotiate the peace deal and many Palestinians have already expressed dismissal without having even seen or heard of the details of the agreement.
Mahmoud al-Aloul, the vice chairman of the ruling Fatah party and a possible successor to Abbas, said the U.S. had sent at least 10 invitations for the Palestinian authority to take part in the peace negotiations. He said all of the invitations were rejected.
“They want to be able to say that they have our input,” he said. “But [Trump] is not doing this to help us, but to help his friend Netanyahu in his campaign.”