Unilateral annexation, however, is not without risk, and something that Israeli leaders, including Mr. Netanyahu, have avoided for decades. For one thing, it could undermine Israel’s strategic peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt. It could also fuel Palestinian unrest or a violent reaction, costing lives on both sides.
For Mr. Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White party, embracing the plan could alienate his more left-leaning supporters and send them back to their more traditional political home, the left-wing Labor-Meretz alliance, tipping the electoral scale away from him.
If Mr. Gantz rejects the plan or gives it a lukewarm reception, that could send his more right-leaning supporters back to Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud or other parties in the right-wing bloc, likewise snatching away the chance of a slim victory.
At a minimum, the peace plan will complicate Mr. Gantz’s efforts to focus Israeli voters’ attention on the cases against Mr. Netanyahu, which he referred to in comments after the meeting. “No one has the right to lead an entire country, at such an intricate diplomatic and security timing, when all of his interests and thoughts are devoted to his own interests,” he said.
“Netanyahu,” he added, “cannot both run a country and run a trial.”
Mr. Gantz also attempted to carve out his own position on the peace plan, welcoming it while distinguishing himself from Mr. Netanyahu by indicating that he prefers not to move unilaterally, but in coordination with Israel’s peace partners.
“Immediately after the elections, I will work toward implementing it from within a stable, functioning Israeli government, in tandem with the other countries in our region,” he said.
As for the weak and ailing Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, acceptance of the plan is impossible since it does not meet the most minimal of Palestinian demands. But refusal leaves his people divided between the West Bank and Gaza, with no state and no road map for the future.