Israeli Defense Minister Meets With Palestinian Authority President Abbas
A rare meeting between an Israeli cabinet minister and the Palestinian Authority president took place in Ramallah, the Palestinian administrative capital, on Sunday. Defense Minister Benny Gantz spent almost three hours, first alone with Abbas and later with each side’s support contingent, discussing what both sides described as “everything” appropriate to the parties with the economy and security topping the agenda. The meeting took place while Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was in Washington, where he met with US President Joe Biden the same day. The Gantz-Abbas meeting was the highest-level interaction between leaders since 2010 and reflects the makeup of the new Israeli government. Although Bennett was said to have approved the meeting, the prime minister opposes the creation of a Palestinian state while Gantz is a proponent of the so-called two-state solution. In fact, following the meeting, a source close to Bennett admonished that “there is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians, nor will there be one,” according to media reports. Yet, under the apparent emerging guidelines of the broad ruling coalition, the prime minister, defense minister, foreign minister and finance minister all have more leeway to operate than did ministers in the various Netanyahu-led governments that were in power for the past 12 years.