Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz Elad Malka

Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz is leaning towards refusing US President Donald Trump's invitation to visit the White House for discussions about the “Deal of the Century”, Channel 13 News reported on Friday evening.

Gantz is expected to explain his decision at a press conference on Saturday, but the decision may still change before that time, the report said.

During the day on Friday, Gantz and his staff were in contact with officials in the US administration to understand what the plan is for the visit, and what Gantz's status will be. In a conversation they had with the US ambassador, they voiced their concerns that the visit could be a trap, partly because it was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who came up with the idea of ​​inviting Gantz.

The ambassador replied that the timing of the release of the plan was not determined by Netanyahu's schedules, but by Trump. The Ambassador also asked Gantz not to cancel his participation, assuring him that he would meet with the US President during the visit.

On Friday afternoon it was reported that Blue and White’s four leaders –Gantz, Yair Lapid, Moshe Yaalon, and Gabi Ashkenazi – were debating whether to accept or reject the invitation.

On Thursday, it was announced that the Trump administration had invited both Gantz and Netanyahu to the White House for a meeting next Tuesday, apparently to disclose the details of the soon-to-be-released Middle East peace plan.

Netanyahu explained during a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence that he suggested that Gantz be invited “because I think that it's important that we do not lose this historic opportunity. With such friends in the White House, with such backing from the United States, we should get as broad a consensus as possible around the efforts to achieve security and peace, peace and security for the State of Israel.”

Later on Thursday, Trump told reporters that he will unveil the plan next week, possibly before the two Israeli leaders’ visit to Washington.

Meanwhile, according to Channel 13 News, White House officials have made it clear that the peace plan comes as one package and that it is impossible to accept parts of it while rejecting others. Therefore, the officials said, if Israel wants to take steps towards annexation in Judea and Samaria after accepting the US peace plan, it can only do so if it implements the entire plan, including the measures that it may not like.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)