Defense Minister Benny Gantz was slammed by his own coalition partners following his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.
Gantz held a meeting with Abbas at his home in Rosh Ha’ayin, the first time Abbas met with a senior Israeli government official in Israel since 2010. Gantz previously met with Abbas in Ramallah in August.
According to Kan News, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was informed of the meeting ahead of time. Bennett later told associates that he didn’t support the meeting, especially the fact that Gantz hosted the PA leader in his home, but he couldn’t stop it.
Most coalition members only heard about the meeting after the fact from the press.
“I wouldn’t invite someone who pays salaries to murderers of Israelis to my home,” Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope) told Radio 103FM on Wednesday morning. “It’s delusional. Abbas is personally heading a campaign in the Hague to put senior IDF officers behind bars, including Gantz himself.”
“Gantz has no license from the government to hold peace negotiations, and he knows it,” Elkin added. “There are no peace negotiations on the table, the Americans also know this.”
Other coalition members also criticized Gantz, saying his behavior “doesn’t contribute to the stability of the government.” Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel (New Hope) said he wouldn’t have met with Abbas, who “is still a Holocaust denier and is playing a very strange double game.”
Following the meeting, Gantz announced a number of “confidence-building measures” to the PA, including the transfer of tax revenue in the amount of NIS 100 million (previously held back due to the PA’s support for terror); the legalization of the staus of 9,500 undocumented Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; the issuance of dozens of VIP permits for senior PA officials, allowing them to freely enter Israel, and 1,100 commercial permits for Palestinian businessman.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)