“It is a shame that the Defense Minister of the State of Israel meets with a terrorist,” said a right-wing Israeli lawmaker of the Gantz-Abbas meeting.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
On the heels of a meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority chair Mahmoud Abbas — the first sit-down involving such high-level Palestinian and Israeli lawmakers in a decade — right wing Israeli political figures slammed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for permitting the meeting to take place.
While a source from Bennett’s office told Hebrew language media that the meeting strictly dealt with security issues and should not be interpreted as a sign of warming ties between the two sides or a move towards peace talks, many on the Israeli right saw the meeting as a sign of the Israeli government caving on its hardline stance regarding the PA.
Some suggested that Bennett gave the green light to the meeting due to pressure from U.S. President Biden, as the American president reportedly brought up the Sheikh Jarrah evictions and Jewish building in Judea and Samaria during Bennett’s visit to Washington.
“The pressure that President Biden put on Bennett at their meeting to begin a political process is beginning to give its signals,” said Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben-Gvir.
“Bennett’s first task upon his return to Israel was to send Defense Minister Ganz to negotiate with a terrorist [Abbas] and prove to the people of Israel that it is not a right-wing government, but a left-wing government.”
“It is a shame that the Defense Minister of the State of Israel meets with a terrorist who heads the Palestinian Authority, which finances terrorism, gives a reward to murderers of Jews, and names [public] squares after them,” he added.
Religious Zionism MK Betzalel Smotrich said that the media’s handling of Bennett with kid gloves is a clear indication that he is not a true right-wing politician.
“Many things can be said about the Israeli media. It is not a sucker… and it is a supporter of retreats and submission to terrorism,” he wrote on Twitter.
“The last prime minister to be supported by the media as Bennett is now was Arik Sharon during the expulsion [of Jews] from Gush Katif and northern Samaria. This scares me. Very much.”
The left-wing Meretz party chair and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz released a statement celebrating the meeting.
“After a long and damaging disconnection of years with our closest neighbors, it is time to resume dialogue and cooperation with the PA…this is what should be done in all areas – civilian, economic, security and political.”