Palestinians decry Abbas-Gantz meeting for ‘deepening security coordination’

Palestinian factions have condemned Tuesday’s meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Benny Gantz, near Tel Aviv, Anadolu Agency reported.

Palestinian officials said the meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz dwelt on the importance of “creating a political horizon that leads to a political solution” in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions.

In a statement on Wednesday, Hamas group said the Abbas-Gantz meeting was held on the 13th anniversary of the 2008 Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

“This meeting provokes the people, who are subjected on a daily basis to an unjust blockade in Gaza, and an aggressive escalation targeting their land, national rights and holy sites in the West Bank and Jerusalem,” it said.

Islamic Jihad group decried the meeting as a “dangerous deviation from national consensus.”

The movement said the meeting “came at a time when our people are facing terrorist attacks led by the Israeli extreme right, and implemented by the army under Gantz’s instructions.”

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) group said the meeting “contradicted national positions and demands.”

“The Palestinian Authority is still betting on negotiations as the only way to resolve the conflict,” PFLP said, noting that this step would “disrupt Palestinian and Arab efforts to restore unity and mobilize the people to resist the schemes aimed at liquidating the cause.”

The Popular Resistance Committees, for its part, denounced the meeting as a “national crime.”

“The Palestinian Authority’s continued bet on negotiations and peace with the Zionist enemy, which practices the most heinous fascist crimes against the Palestinian people, is an attempt to sell out illusions again.”

Tuesday’s meeting was the second between Abbas and Gantz, as they met on 30 August, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. At that time, the Israeli government said that the meeting discussed security issues and did not touch upon any political files.

Political talks between the Palestinians and Israel have collapsed since 2014, due to Israel’s refusal to stop building settlements and its non-acceptance of the “two-state solution”.

Gantz hosted Abbas on Tuesday night at his home on Rosh Ha’ayin. The city was founded in 1949 on the depopulated Palestinian village of Majdal Yaba. It marked the first time the Palestinian leader held talks with a senior official in the occupation for over a decade.

The meeting is said to have lasted for two and a half hours and included the head of the Israeli military branch responsible for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories, Ghasan Alyan, senior PA official, Hussein Al Sheikh, and Palestinian Intelligence Chief, Majid Faraj.

Details of the meeting released by the two sides emphasized on different outcomes. The Israeli side focused on security, whereas the Palestinian side emphasized the need for ending Israel’s ongoing occupation and establishing a solution based on international law.

“The Defense Minister emphasized the shared interest in strengthening security cooperation, preserving security stability, and preventing terrorism and violence,” Gantz’s office said in a statement.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Gantz emphasized security coordination. “We discussed the implementation of economic and civilian measures”, with Abbas, said Gantz “and emphasized the importance of deepening security coordination and preventing terror and violence.”

The PA did not mention deepening security coordination with Israel and, instead, had a different take on the meeting. “President #Abbas met with Minister #Gantz, where they discussed the importance of creating a political horizon that leads to a political solution in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions” said Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister, Hussein Al Sheikh, in a tweet.

The pair also discussed “the tense conditions on the ground due to the practices of settlers, and the meeting dealt with many security, economic and humanitarian issues”, according to Al Sheikh.

In recent months there has been a rise in settler violence against Palestinians. In another indication of the extremely violent turn of Israeli society, extremist Israeli Jewish groups threatened Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev. He has been assigned round-the-clock security protection.

Bar-Lev had raised concerns over the rise of settler violence with US officials and said that that he was working to put an end to it.