A rare visit by the Palestinian President to Israel to meet the Minister of Defense

Jerusalem | Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz discussed Tuesday evening during a meeting that they held, according to the Israeli press, in Israel, the first in years.

This evening (Tuesday) I met the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. We discussed the implementation of economic and civil measures, and the importance of strengthening security coordination (…),” Mr. Gantz wrote on Twitter, shortly after his ministry announced a meeting with Mr. Abbas.

On the Palestinian side, Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh, a close friend of Mahmoud Abbas, noted on Twitter that this meeting focused on “security, economic and humanitarian” issues, and “tensions” linked to Israeli activities. settlers in the occupied West Bank and on the “importance of creating a political horizon” to achieve a “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli defense minister and the Palestinian civil affairs minister did not specify the location of the meeting. According to Israeli newspapers, it was held at Mr. Gantz’s home in Rosh Ha’ayin, central Israel.

After the coalition government headed by Naftali Bennett came to power in June, Israeli ministers, including Benny Gantz, visited Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority. But it will be the first time since 2010 that Abbas has visited Israel for an official meeting with a member of the Israeli government.

The Likud party (right) opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister from 2009 until last June and a fierce critic of the Palestinian president, denounced in a press release this Abbas-Gantz meeting that, according to him, led to “dangerous concessions for” Israel’s security.

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Hamas denounces

The party added that Naftali Bennett’s government, with the support of an Arab party, the first of its kind in Israel’s history, “returned the Palestinians and Abbas to the agenda, and this constitutes a danger to Israel.”

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which holds power in the Gaza Strip under the Israeli siege, denounced the meeting, saying it deviated from the “national spirit of our Palestinian people.”

“This behavior of the Palestinian Authority leadership exacerbates the Palestinian political division, complicates the Palestinian situation, encourages some in the region who want normalization with the occupier, and weakens the Palestinian position that rejects normalization” with Israel, a Hamas spokesman said. Hazem Qassem in a statement.

The Abbas-Gantz meeting comes less than a week after US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan visited Israel and the occupied West Bank, who discussed with Mahmoud Abbas “the resumption of a significant level of economic aid and development” from the United States. .

The current Israeli government says it wants to discuss ways to “improve” the Palestinians’ standard of living, without seeking to initiate new peace negotiations.

Peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have stalled since 2014. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a former leader of the pro-settlement movement in the West Bank, opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.

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