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Israeli prime minister to travel to US for unveiling of Donald Trumps Middle East peace plan

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he hopes to make history during his upcoming visit to the White House for the unveiling of Donald Trumps Middle East peace plan.

Addressing his cabinet before departing for the US, Netanyahu described the current environment, characterised by close ties with Trump, as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Israel should not miss.

The US presidents plan is expected to be extremely favourable to Israel. The White House meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

Palestinian officials threatened on Sunday to withdraw from key provisions of the Oslo accords, which define relations with Israel, if Trump announces his Middle East peace plan next week.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, told Agence France-Presse that the Palestine Liberation Organisation reserved the right to withdraw from the interim agreement.

The Trump initiative will turn Israels temporary occupation [of Palestinian territory] into a permanent occupation, Erekat said.

The interim agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, commonly known as Oslo II and signed in Washington in 1995, sought to put into practice the first Oslo peace deal agreed two years earlier.

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. 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 purposes, great responsibility and great chance, and I am hopeful we can make history.

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

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

While Netanyahu has tried to divert attention from his legal troubles and focus his campaign on his close ties with Trump, his opponent Benny Gantz has focused his campaign on the prime ministers criminal charges and expected trial.

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

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

Associated Press and AFP contributed to this story

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/26/netanyahu-hopes-to-make-history-during-white-house-visit-donald-trump-middle-east