Netanyahu hopeful of making history during White House visit

By Associated Press reporter

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he hopes to “make history” during his upcoming trip to the White House for the expected unveiling of President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan.

Addressing his Cabinet shortly before departing for Washington on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu described the current environment, characterised by close ties with Mr Trump, as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Israel that “we must not miss”.

Mr Trump’s plan is expected to be extremely favourable to Israel.

“We are in the midst of very dramatic political events, but the peak is still ahead,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“For three years I have discussed with President Trump and his team our security and national needs — dozens of discussions and hundreds of hours.

Benny Gantz is also meeting Donald Trump (Oded Balilty/AP/PA)

“In all of these talks, I found a receptive ear in the White House for the essential needs of the state of Israel.

“I am going to Washington with a great sense of purpose, great responsibility and great chance, and I am hopeful we can make history.”

The plan’s release has been repeatedly delayed and it seems to have little chance of success. The Palestinians, accusing Mr Trump of being unfairly biased toward Israel, have already rejected it.

However, the plan could give Mr Netanyahu, who is in the middle of his third re-election campaign in under a year, a lift as he tries to remain in office while fighting criminal charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes.

Mr Netanyahu has tried to divert attention away from his legal troubles and focus his campaign on his close ties with Mr Trump. His opponent, Benny Gantz, has focused his campaign on Mr Netanyahu’s criminal charges and expected trial.

Mr Gantz announced on Saturday that he would also be going to Washington for a private meeting with Mr Trump. He turned down a joint appearance with Mr Netanyahu at the White House, fearing the prime minister would use it to upstage him.

Instead, Mr Gantz will quickly return to Israel to proceed with his plans in parliament to block a request by Mr Netanyahu to receive immunity from prosecution.