Washington – US President Donald Trump was set to host two rival Israeli leaders at the White House on Monday to discuss a Middle East peace plan, one that has stirred controversy even before its official publication.
Trump was also scheduled to conduct separate meetings with caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of the ruling, conservative Likud party, at 11 am (1600 GMT), and former military chief Benny Gantz, of the centrist Blue and White at 12:30 pm (1730 GMT).
Trump was expected to unveil the plan, which has been three years in the making, sometime before or after a second meeting with Netanyahu on Tuesday, although the White House has published no official time.
Critics charge that the timing of the expected unveiling – ahead of March 2 Israeli elections and as Israel’s parliament is scheduled to debate Netanyahu’s request for immunity against corruption charges on Tuesday – amounted to US meddling in internal Israeli politics in favour of Netanyahu.
Palestinians have furiously dismissed Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” as it has been dubbed in Israel, out of hand, since, according to reports, they would not receive East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Israel’s biggest-selling Yediot Ahronot daily reported on Monday that, under the Trump plan, the Palestinians also would have no shared border with any Arab country, except for the so-called Philadelphi Road between Gaza and Egypt. Additionally, Israel’s West Bank settlement blocs would receive US recognition.
Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War.