Israeli Minister Brings Basket of Gifts to Palestinian Authority
When Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz became the most senior government official to visit Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas since 2010, he showed up with a gift basket ostensibly intended to provide confidence-building measures that would move negotiations along. Middle East experts opine that the perks go beyond diplomatic gift-giving and are intended to offset the argument rival Hamas uses to attract popular support: that while Fatah has nothing to show for its seemingly endless negotiations, Hamas achieves success in wringing out concessions from Israel through its policy of “armed resistance” – violence. Focusing on the Palestinian economy, Israel will provide a loan of 500 million shekels. Critics dismiss the suggestion of Israeli largesse; it is taking repayment from the tax revenues it collects for the Palestinians per the Oslo Accords and Paris Protocol. The matter of thousands of West Bank Palestinians lacking documentation also was addressed during the meeting. Gantz agreed that Israel would legalize thousands of undocumented foreign nationals married to Palestinians in the West Bank and update the status of Gazans who moved to the West Bank. What many consider to be the most significant perk was announced Tuesday morning: allowing Palestinian IT to use 4G technology. The Palestinian request to “move into the 21st century” has been one of the most contentious issues with Israel.