Former Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Amir Eshel, who currently serves as Director General of the Defense Ministry, spoke to Maariv about how he foiled the plans to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.
"Benny [Gantz] appointed me, without anyone knowing, to prepare for [then-US President Donald] Trump's 'deal of the century,'" Eshel told Maariv, referring to current Defense Minister Benny Gantz, chair of the National Unity party.
"This was in the days of [former Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's rotation government."
Eshel added that, "We knew everything," about the proposed peace plan. "It came to light in that visit by Gantz to the White House, before the elections, when they suddenly saw me with him."
"I worked with [former US] Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman, and with the White House. This was a professional task, not a political one. He presented me to President Trump and told him, 'Listen, this is General Eshel, he was in every country in the Middle East, without a passport.' Trump smiled and told Gantz something like, 'He is a killer.' Leaving the room, I caught a few sentences with Trump, and I told him, 'Mister, we must ensure that the plan takes effect. Afterwards, I caught Jared Kushner and Ambassador Friedman and gave them the same message. I told them, 'Your plan will die even before it is even born.'"
"Jared looked at me as if I'd fallen from the moon," Eshel continued. "I told him, 'Listen, Netanyahu has a plan to bring annexation for government approval, immediately. We knew this even before we arrived at the White House. I told him that if that happens, the plan will die. He did not quite understand. I told him that no Arab leader will agree to this, no one will support it."
"He told me: 'What do you mean? I spoke with each and every one of them, they are all in favor.' I told him, 'They are in favor of what? That Israel immediately demand in cash its portion without giving anything in return? Do you see [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-]Sisi supporting this? [Jordan's King] Abdullah? You will suffer a rebound that you won't even understand where it came from. None of them will be able to support this, that Israel receives cash and the Palestinians credit that will never be paid."
"I saw that this did something to Jared. We went downstairs, I told Benny, 'Listen, if we don't do something now, the entire deal will collapse. We must first of all stop the annexation. This will be a disaster. Talk to him now.
"From the car he already spoke again with Kushner. We returned to Israel via Zurich. In the meantime, he spoke with Kushner another time. If you follow, you'll note that it was then that Kushner began to express doubts on the issue of immediate annexation. And then everything overturned."
When asked about Netanyahu's promise that, "On Sunday we will announce the annexation," Eshel said, "Correct. This is how we prevented the annexation. We returned to Israel, Benny took back the cockpit, and asked me to present this to them. Before we flew, he presented me to the cockpit for the first time, and I presented them with the 'deal of the century,' with its advantages and disadvantages. And now I presented them with the situation. In that meeting in Washington, and the conversations that followed, there began to be a chain of responses which prevented the annexation."