Gantz-Abu Mazen meetings end a decade of Israeli boycott of the Palestinian Authority
On the evening of December 28, 2021, a meeting was held between Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
This is the second meeting that brought together Gantz and Abbas; as the first one took place at the end of last August at the district headquarters in Ramallah, while this one is held in Benny Gantz's home in the town of "Rosh Ha'ayin" in central Israel.
The importance of this meeting comes from its being the first visit made by Abbas to Israel to participate in an official meeting since 2010.
On the Palestinian side, Majed Faraj, Hussein Al-Sheikh in addition to two advisers from Abu Mazen's office attended the meeting. From the Israeli side, the meeting was attended by the Minister of Defense and Coordinator of Government Activities Ghassan Alyan, senior officials in the Ministry of Defense and the director of Gantz's office.
During the meeting, Abbas submitted a set of requests, including granting 6,000 permits for family unification or issuing Palestinian identity cards in the West Bank under the "Oslo" agreement. Abbas also asked for granting another 1,500 IDs to Palestinians living in Gaza.
Furthermore, it was agreed to grant permits to VIPs and entry permits for Palestinian cars to Israel. They also agreed on increasing the number of workers coming from Gaza and the West Bank, urgently transferring more than 100 million shekels to the Palestinian Authority not delaying the tax dues.
Both sides discussed various security concerns when discussing undeclared issues. Basically, they touched upon deepening cooperation in confronting Hamas in the West Bank, preventing the Movement from carrying out operations against Israelis, in addition to thwart its attempts to incite citizens to revolt against the Palestinian Authority and either to take to streets in demonstrations or establish secret organizations and cells that work on creating a state of lawlessness in the Palestinian cities.
Gantz on his part, urged Abu Mazen to approve the structural and organizational maps for Areas A and B in order to establish this in official institutions and prevent attacks on the Palestinian territories. The Israeli minister pledged that Israel would organize the affairs of Areas C to prevent friction and clashes over land, and so on.
By the way, despite the Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett did not want this meeting to be held, but he definitely knew about it. In fact, in such a fragile coalition government, Bennett cannot prevent the defense minister from holding such a meeting. He would rather make use of these meetings as proofs before the Americans that his government is responding US demands to show flexibility with the Palestinians.
Nevertheless, it is believed that the coming period will witness more meetings between Israeli security officers and officials with Palestinian ones, within the policy of creating a fait accompli on the prime minister by negotiating even on small civil matters, which aims at creating conditions for good relations between the two sides.