Israeli defense minister blasted for hosting Abbas who rewards terrorists that murder Israelis

Bennett reportedly criticized the meeting when notified ahead of time.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Right-wing Israeli politicians from the governing coalition and the opposition denounced Defense Minister Benny Gantz for hosting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his home in Rosh Ha’Ayin this week.

Abbas was joined by adviser Hussein al-Sheikh and PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj. Gantz and Abbas spoke alone for part of the two-and-a-half hour meeting.

The encounter marked the first time since 2010 that Abbas crossed the Green Line for talks in Jerusalem with then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Abbas also attended the funeral of Shimon Peres in 2016. Although he greeted Netanyahu, the two held no discussions.

According to various reports, Gantz had offered Abbas a series of “confidence-building measures” as described by the Israeli Defense Ministry, which included economic benefits to the P.A. with regard to VAT, import taxes and excise duties; a NIS 100 million ($32.2 million) loan; 1,100 entry permits for Palestinian businessmen; and dozens of VIP permits for senior P.A. officials.

Gantz’s other concession to the Palestinians includes the legalization of the status of 9,500 undocumented Palestinians and foreigners living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

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The Defense Ministry said Gantz and Abbas also discussed construction plans for Palestinian homes.

Israel’s Kan News reported that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was notified ahead of time and criticized the meeting. While Bennett opposes peace talks with the Palestinians, his government is helping prop up the struggling Palestinian Authority.

Two cabinet ministers from the New Hope party, a coalition partner, assailed Gantz for holding the meeting and also for not notifying the cabinet in advance.

“I wouldn’t have invited to my home someone who pays salaries to murderers of Israelis and also wants to put senior IDF officers in prison in The Hague, including the host himself,” said Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin to 103 FM.

Gantz has “no leeway from the government to hold peace negotiations, and he knows it,” Elkin insisted.

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel told Kan News he “personally wouldn’t have met” with Abbas, who “in my eyes is still a Holocaust denier and is playing a very strange double game.”

Opposition figures added their criticism.

A Likud statement said that “the Israeli-Palestinian government of Bennett is returning [Abbas] and the Palestinians to center stage” and insisted that “it’s only a matter of time until there are dangerous concessions to the Palestinians.”

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A similar statement was released by the Religious Zionism party.

“The meeting and the connection with Abu Mazen (aka Mahmoud Abbas) are foolish both morally and politically,” Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman said in a statement after the meeting.

“Abu Mazen has been irrelevant for a long time. His past is ripe with Antisemitism, bloodletting of Jews, Holocaust denial, and harming his own people. Abu Mazen is the leader of the PLO gang, which clings to power through a brutal dictatorship while violating the human rights of the Arabs living under the PA, all the while paying the salaries of terrorists.

“We live in Judea and Samaria and have good relations with our Arab neighbors. The majority of the Arabs in this area are anti the Palestinian Authority, and against Abu Mazen the dictator. That number is growing.  It’s a great shame that Abu Mazen’s source of strength and relevance comes from the government of Israel.”

However, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the meeting was “important for both Israel’s security and its international status. Security and civilian coordination with the PA is essential to Israel’s security.”

And Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz tweeted that “strengthening the ties and striving for a diplomatic solution is a top interest for both nations.”

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Gantz previously met with Abbas in Ramallah in August.

JNS contributed to this report.