Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz
2 min read
29 December, 2021
Their talks mark the highest-level public meetings between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and an Israeli minister since Israel's new government was formed in June.
Mahmoud Abbas and Benny Gantz met at Gantz's home in Israel [Getty-archive]

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to strengthen economic and security ties.

The meeting, their second since Abbas hosted Gantz in August in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, was held late on Tuesday at Gantz's home in Israel, Israel's public broadcaster Kan reported, the first such trip for Abbas in more than a decade.

Palestinian official Hussein Al-Sheikh said the two discussed the "importance of creating a political horizon," for the solution of the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict, which has seen Tel Aviv maintain an illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and blockade of Gaza. The last round of talks collapsed in 2014.

"We discussed the implementation of economic and civilian measures, and emphasized the importance of deepening security coordination and preventing terror and violence - for the well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians," Gantz said on Twitter.

Their talks mark the highest-level public meetings between Abbas and an Israeli minister since Israel's new government was formed in June.

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But few see prospects for a resumption of talks with Israel's coalition government headed by hawkish Prime Minister Naftali Bennett who opposes Palestinian statehood.

Palestinians seek an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza with a capital in East Jerusalem. The United Nations considers East Jerusalem to be occupied Palestinian land. Israel annexed East Jerusalem decades ago in an unlawful move which is unrecognised internationally.

Palestinians have limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank, though in practice Israel frequently violates this arrangement. Though Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, since 2007 it has maintained a crushing blockade on the Strip, which is now controlled by Islamist militant group Hamas.

Hamas, which has fought several wars with Israel, condemned the Abbas-Gantz talks.

In May, Israel launched a deadly 11-day bombing campaign against Gaza, killing around 266 Palestinians. Meanwhile, rocket fire from Hamas and other Gaza militants killed 13 people in Israel.

(Reuters)