Palestinian leader visits Defense Minister’s home, draws Hamas rage

Hamas condemns move as attack on ongoing “intifada”; Israeli Right blasts meeting, slams Abbas’ “antisemitism.”

By World Israel News Staff

Defense Minister Benny Gantz hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his home in Rosh HaAyin on Tuesday, in the first visit by the embattled PA leader to an Israeli government official in more than a decade.

In a statement on Twitter, Gantz wrote that the two men had discussed “the implementation of economic and civilian measures” aimed at supporting the ailing PA, as terror group Hamas grows in popularity among Palestinians.

He added that they had spoken about the “importance of deepening security coordination and preventing terror and violence – for the well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians” during the two and a half hour meeting.

Abbas’ senior advisor on the PA’s relationship with Israel, Hussein al-Sheikh, was also present at Tuesday’s meeting, along with Israeli military liaison to the PA Ghassan Alian.

In a tweet after the meeting, al-Sheikh wrote that the two sides spoke about “the importance of creating a political horizon that leads to a political solution… as well as the tense conditions in the field due to the practices of settlers.”

Al-Sheikh’s reference to settler violence comes weeks after right-wing Israeli lawmakers slammed Interior Minister Omer Bar Lev for discussing the topic with a senior Israeli official, but failing to bring up an uptick in Arab terror attacks.

Strong backlash

Abbas’ advisor did not acknowledge the threat to peace posed by a spate of recent Palestinian terror attacks in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, but the Hamas terror group had a vocal statement about it.

Blasting Abbas for meeting with an Israeli official, Hamas released a statement charging that the sit-down was a “stabbing in the back of the intifada currently taking place” in Judea and Samaria.

The statement is particularly notable as it marks the first time that rather than praising individual attacks, the terror group has formally acknowledged the new wave of Arab-perpetrated lone wolf terror attacks sweeping Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

The meeting also drew ire from members of Israel’s current coalition.

“I would not invite to my home someone who pays salaries to murderers of Israelis and who is trying to put me on trial for war crimes,” New Hope Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin told KAN Radio.

Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman said it was outrageous for an Israeli government official to host Abbas.

“His past is ripe with antisemitism, bloodletting of Jews, Holocaust denial, and harming his own people,” Ne’eman said in a statement. “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 [moniker for Abbas] 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.”

Gantz previously met with Abbas in Ramallah in August 2021.