Israeli Defense Minister meets Palestinian leader in Ramallah

Abbas was asked to clamp down on Jenin during Biden’s visit.

By Associated Press

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met in Ramallah on Thursday to discuss security coordination ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to the region next week.

Israel’s security establishment is concerned about the possibility of terror attacks during the presidential visit. Palestinians are disgruntled that Biden is unlikely to announce any new peace initiatives and may try to disrupt his visit, according to Israeli assessments reported by Channel 12.

Ahead of Biden’s arrival on July 13, Hebrew media reports said Israel has already requested that Palestinian security forces expand their activities in Jenin, where the IDF has been clamping down on terror groups.

An Israeli statement said Gantz and Abbas agreed to “continue security coordination and to avoid activities that may cause instability.”

The statement also said the two-hour meeting was conducted “in positive terms,” with Gantz wishing Abbas and the Palestinian people a happy Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday beginning this weekend.

Abbas “stressed the importance of creating a political horizon, respecting the signed agreements and stopping the actions and measures that lead to the deterioration of the situation,” Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior aide, tweeted.

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Abbas also stressed the importance of having a “calm atmosphere before President Biden’s visit, which we welcome,” the tweet said.

Gantz met with Abbas a couple of times last year and announced measures to improve economic conditions for the Palestinians.

Gantz remains defense minister in a caretaker government ahead of elections planned for Nov. 1.

Abbas leads the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts Judea and Samaria. Polls say nearly 80% of Palestinians want him to resign, in part because of his close cooperation with Israel. Last year he called off the first Palestinian elections in 15 years.

World Israel News staff contributed to this report.