Peace Talks? With Bennett’s Approval, Gantz Meets With Abbas In Ramallah

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Benny Gantz (Oded Karni/GPO); Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a meeting of Fatah's Revolutionary Council in a speech that was broadcast on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 (WAFA)

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday evening in the first high-level meeting between Israel and the PA since 2010.

The meeting was arranged with the approval of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Right-wing MKs expressed outrage at the report of the meeting but sources from the prime minister’s office said that the meeting focused only on security issues and there “were no diplomatic political negotiations with the Palestinians nor will there ever be any.”

Bennett told US President Joe Biden during their meeting on Friday that he has no intentions of holding political discussions with Abbas but is interested in helping to economically advance the PA, which is currently in a deep financial crisis.

No photos of the meeting were published.

“This evening I met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to discuss security-policy, civilian and economic issues,” Gantz stated after the meeting. “I told Chairman Abbas that Israel seeks to take measures that will strengthen the PA’s economy.”

“We also discussed shaping the security and economic situations in the West Bank and in Gaza. We agreed to continue communicating further on the issues that were raised during the meeting.”

“They’re spitting in our faces,” Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir said in response to the report. “They support terrorism, name intersections after murderers, and award prizes to whoever murders Jews and Israel’s Defense Minister meets with them. It’s shameful.”

Religious Zionism chairman Betzalel Smotrich accused Bennett of having no red lines in ensuring his political survival and said that after years of the right-wing bloc rendering Abbas irrelevant, “this Bennett government has restored Abbas to the forefront of the international arena… and is inviting the international community to exert pressure on Israel to concede to demands to divide the country.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)