An Israeli official close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett downplayed on Monday the first official Israeli-Palestinian talks since the premier took office in June, saying there won’t be any peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
According to Israeli media reports, the official stressed: “There is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians, nor will there be one”.
“This is a meeting that deals with security issues,” the official said, adding that it was approved in advance by the prime minister. “[It] covered routine issues between the defense establishment and the Palestinian Authority.”
Palestinian President Abbas meets Israeli defence minister Gantz https://t.co/n6FUpoTiyC
— Joe Catron (@jncatron) August 30, 2021
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah for a rare meeting with the 85-year-old Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
It marked the first high-level face-to-face meeting between both sides in over a decade.
According to Gantz’s office, the politicians held two rounds of discussions. The first was attended by Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, Ghassan Alian, Palestinian Authority intelligence chief Majid Faraj and Al-Sheikh. In the second, Gantz and Abbas spoke privately.
In first top level meeting in 11 years Israel pledges that PA will survive, but there will be no diplomatic track. https://t.co/RH9K2xkBYr
— Jørgen Jensehaugen (@JJensehaugen) August 30, 2021
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri slammed the meeting, calling it “dangerous and disrespectful”. Zuhri accused the Palestinian Authority of “caring more about security cooperation with Israel than the national interests of Palestine”.
Bennett is a hardline nationalist who opposes Palestinian statehood and previously led a powerful settler lobbying council.
(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)