Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the home of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday for his first official meeting in Israel since 2010.
Why this matters: It was the second meeting between Abbas and Gantz in four months, and is part of a broader effort by Israel’s new government and the Palestinian Authority to reestablish ties.
Flashback: During the 12-year tenure of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there was almost no contact between Israel and the Palestinian leaders.
- Abbas met Netanyahu and the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010 in Jerusalem. He briefly congratulated Netanyahu at the funeral of former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 2016.
- It was the last time Abbas set foot in Israel ahead of Tuesday’s meeting at Gantz’s home in the city of Rosh Hain.
Running news: Senior Israeli officials say the meeting lasted two and a half hours and focused mainly on security coordination and economic cooperation.
- Gantz presented Abbas with a series of measures that Israel would take to boost the Palestinian economy, including a $30 million loan to the Palestinian Authority.
- One of the main issues raised by Abbas was the recent attacks by Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. Abbas warned Gantz that they could lead to violent retaliation from Palestinians and widespread escalation in the West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian officials say.
- Gantz and Abbas agreed to strengthen security coordination and enhance security measures against extremist groups on both sides who are planning attacks.
- Abbas told Gantz he was satisfied with his meeting with White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan last week, but said the US was not providing enough financial aid to the Palestinian Authority.
Between the lines: The Israeli government is concerned that economic and political turmoil in the West Bank and Gaza Strip could lead to violent escalation on the ground. It is working to bolster the Palestinian power, which is facing a crisis of legitimacy after re-postponing elections last spring.
- In contrast, Netanyahu was accused of undermining the Palestinian Authority and reducing pressure to hold peace talks by effectively reinforcing his more extremist political rival, Hamas.
- At Tuesday’s meeting, Abbas told Gantz that he understands that the current Israeli government – an overwhelming coalition of right-wing, centrist and left-wing parties – will not be able to move toward peace talks politically. But he insisted the sides should continue to meet and indicated that there is an alternative political horizon for Hamas.
What are they saying: “The meeting was the last chance before it exploded and found itself in a dead end. It’s a serious and bold endeavour.” [find] A political path,” tweeted Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh, who attended the meeting.
- Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the meeting was important for Israel’s security and its international status.
- Prime Minister Naftali Bennett approved Gantz’s meeting but did not comment on it. He has said that he will not meet Abbas.
- Now the opposition leader, Netanyahu and his Likud party, criticized the meeting and attacked Gantz. On the Palestinian side, Hamas criticized the meeting and attacked Abbas.
- State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US was “very pleased” with the meeting and hoped that “confidence-building measures were discussed, advancing freedom, security and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike in 2022.” For the sake of speed will speed up.”