“We will always works in full cooperation with the US.”
Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz is seen meeting with settler leaders.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Israel must ensure its 1994 peace deal with Jordan is preserved, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz told settlers as he met with them to discuss annexation and the US peace plan.
“When we take diplomatic steps, we must pay careful attention to what is happening on the ground and in the area around us, including, for example, preserving Israel’s peace agreement with Jordan,” he said. “These agreements contribute greatly regional stability and all of our security.”
He also spoke of the importance of working in partnership with the United States when it came to annexation.
“We will always work in full cooperation with the Americans,” Gantz said. “I would like to emphasize here, the United States is our best friend in the world. It supports us with regard to strategic issues that impact our destiny and we will maintain this partnership.”
Gantz said he was discussing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu matters involving pending annexation plans and US Donald Trump’s peace initiative.
“The prime minister and I are sitting together and discussing the different possibilities within the diplomatic arena and I hope that we will be able to come to an agreement,” Gantz said.
He assured the settler leaders that irrespective of any sovereignty moves, Israel had a responsibility to allow the residents in legal areas of Judea and Samaria to live a secure and normal life.
“It is important, moving forward,” he said, “that the unity of Israeli society is preserved in spite of the differences of opinion.” Preserving societal unity is the reasons he entered politics, Gantz explained to the settlers.
Gantz has had a lukewarm attitude to annexation, expressing both support for the Trump plan and concern for its impact on neighboring Jordan, which has warned that annexation would endanger the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty. While Gantz supports placing portions of the West Bank territory within Israel’s sovereign territory, he has preferred to do so with international agreement and through dialogue than unilaterally.
The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that the US wants Gantz to agree to the application of sovereignty to portions of the West Bank before it would allow Netanyahu to do so this summer.
According to a source at the meeting, Gantz told those in the meeting that, “a Mapainik once taught me: ‘take what you have been given and deal with the rest later.’” The source said he was left with the impression that Gantz wanted to advance sovereignty under the Trump plan.
It’s a phrase that sums up the attitude of those among the settler leadership that support the Trump peace plan.
Present at the meeting were some 17 settlers leaders, including Yesha Council head David Elhayani and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who has opposed the Trump plan, and Efrat Council head Oded Revivi, who has supported it.
It was Gantz’s first meeting with the settler leadership since the formation of the government last month.
Elhayani spoke warmly of Gantz after meeting with the former IDF chief-of-staff, and explained that while in that role, Gantz always had a good relationship with those in the settlements and understood their security needs.
“We meet a responsible person who is committed to a responsible diplomatic process,” Elhayani said.
The meeting took place at the headquarters of the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division, where Gantz also met with top military commanders, including IDF Chief-of-Staff Aviv Kochavi, and held security assessments.
Netanyahu in the last week has twice meet with the settler leadership, once with the supporters of the Trump plan and once with the opponents.
Lahav Harkov and Omri Nahmias contributed to the report.