Defense Minister Benny Gantz met Sunday night in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to discuss security-political, civilian, and economic issues, Israel’s Defense Ministry said in a statement to the press.
A source close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said after the meeting that “it was approved in advance by the Prime Minister. This is a meeting that deals with current issues of the defense establishment with the Palestinian Authority. There is no political process with the Palestinians nor will there be any.”
Gantz told the PA chairman that Israel was ready for a series of measures that would strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s economy. The two also discussed the shaping of the security, civilian and economic reality in Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. The two agreed to continue to keep in touch on the various issues that were raised.
The meeting was attended by the Coordinator of Operations in the Occupied Territories, Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh, and Chief of PA Intelligence Majid Faraj.
At the end of the professional meeting, Gantz and Abbas held a tête-à-tête meeting for about 40 minutes, during which the Defense Minister promised the PA Arab residents of Judea and Samaria civil and economic concessions that would help stabilize the security situation.
The meeting Sunday night followed Bennett and President Joe Biden’s meeting on Friday, where they discussed the Palestinian issue. During the meeting at the White House, Bennett clarified that under the current political circumstances, he does not intend to advance political negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. But because of this, the Prime Minister said he was determined to promote economic moves that favor the PA, which is in a deep economic crisis.
Hussein al-Sheikh noted after the meeting that Abbas and Gantz discussed every area of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians Authority.
The parties agreed that no photos from the meeting would be distributed.
Last July, Gantz spoke with Abbas over the phone on the occasion of the Feast of the Sacrifice. The minister congratulated the chairman on the occasion of the holiday, and his office said that the two raised the need to promote “trust-building measures between Israel and the Palestinians, which would help the security and economy of the entire region.”
Back in June, Haaretz revealed that Palestinian Authority officials had submitted to the Biden administration a list of proposals for political moves they were interested in advancing with Israel. The document included some 30 proposals that deal with the restoration of the PA’s governmental powers, the improvement of the PA’s economy as well as the quality of life of its residents.
According to a source involved in the initiative, the three players in the political arena—the PA, the Bennett-Lapid government, and the Biden administration—believe that at this stage it’s not possible to publicly promote a significant political process between Jerusalem and Ramallah and that some of the initiatives that have been requested by the PA can be promoted under the radar, without attracting public attention in the PA or Israeli arena.