Jerusalem, Jan 24 (IANS) Visiting US Vice President Mike Pence announced that the White House will release its Middle East peace plan next week.
In joint statements with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu here on Thursday, Pence said that US President Donald Trump requested him to extend an invitation to the premier and opposition leader Benny Gantz to arrive in Washington “to discuss regional issues and the possibility of peace in the Holy Land”, reports Xinhua news agency.
Netanyahu and Gantz accepted the invitation, Pence said.
Netanyahu said he suggested the White House would invite Gantz as well, “because I think it is important that we not lose this historic opportunity with such friends in the White House”.
“We should get as broad consensus as possible,” said Netanyahu.
The statements were made ahead of a meeting between Pence and Netanyahu at the US embassy in Jerusalem.
The unveiling of the long-awaiting peace plan comes as both Netanyahu and Gantz pledged to annex the Israeli-occupied West Bank if they win the country’s upcoming national elections on March 2.
The move is considered highly controversial among most of the international community and is likely to spark Palestinian protest.
Trump has postponed the publication of his “Deal of the Century” for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The economic part of Trump’s peace plan was unveiled during a US-led conference in Bahrain last June, a convention boycotted by the Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas severed ties with the Trump administration in 2017 after the US recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The last round of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians broke down in 2014 amid the former’s expansion of the settlements in the West Bank.
Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and has since controlled or blockaded them despite international criticism.