First modification: 08/30/2021 – 18:34
Israeli Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met in the West Bank, the first high-level meeting of the two sides in more than a decade. The approach generates divided reactions. While some see it as a first step in rebuilding the relationship, the Islamist movement Hamas strongly rejected it.
An attempted change of direction in Israeli-Palestinian relations. This is how the meeting between Benny Gantz, the Israeli Defense Minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, was seen. The meeting took place in person in the West Bank on Sunday night, August 29, according to diplomatic officials.
Although little is known publicly about the points raised in the meeting, both parties offered short statements. On the Israeli side, through a statement from the Defense Minister’s office, Gantz showed Abbas new measures to strengthen the Palestinian economy. It also transpired that “security” issues were discussed and they agreed to “continue in contact.”
On the part of the Palestinian Territories, the Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein Al Sheikh, affirmed through a tweet that the meeting “discussed all aspects of Palestinian-Israeli relations.”
Also, from anonymity, a Palestinian official told the AP, that they discussed steps to improve the atmosphere. Among these would be Palestinian demands to stop Israeli military operations in the West Bank, which would allow for the unification of families within Israel and the entry of more Palestinian workers.
Likewise, a source close to the Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, did for EFE, who stated that “the Gantz-Abás meeting was approved in advance by the prime minister. This is a meeting that dealt with security issues with the Palestinian Authority. There is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians and there will be. “
The meeting came two days after US President Joe Biden and Bennett held a dialogue at the White House. Although the prime minister follows a hard line and opposes Palestinian independence, he has said that he supports building the Palestinian economy.
The meeting has also been ranked as the most significant and highest-level meeting between the two sides since the peace talks stopped in 2014. This comes at a time when the new Israeli government is made up of a coalition of diverse positions on the Palestinian question.
Split reactions to Abbas – Gantz meeting
The Islamist movement Hamas condemned the meeting. “Meetings like this represent the continuation of the illusion of the leadership of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) about the possibility of obtaining something for the Palestinian people through the failed path of negotiation,” Hazem Qasem, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement. .
For the organization, “this behavior deepens the Palestinian political division and complicates the Palestinian situation as a whole.” Finally, Qasem added that meetings like Abbas and Gantz “encourage some in the region who want to normalize relations with the occupation (Israel) and weaken the Palestinian position.”
However, others saw the meeting as a first step in rebuilding relations between the two parties. Yossi Beilin, who was a negotiator in the peace process in the 1990s, told EFE that: “I cannot stop stressing the importance of a meeting like this. The fact that it happened is more important than what was said in it ”. He also stated that he hopes that it will be the beginning of future meetings.
Does the Biden era affect the Israel-Palestine relationship?
With the change of Administration in the United States, there have also been changes in the perspective of the relationship between Palestine and Israel.
Biden defends interim measures to build confidence between the two parties. A very different view from his predecessor, Donald Trump, who endorsed former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard line on Palestine.
Trump took measures such as the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a territory disputed between both parties.
With AP, Reuters and EFE