(Photo credit: Times of Israel)
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz held a meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on 7 July to discuss security coordination between Tel Aviv and the PA.
The meeting took place as part of the buildup to US President Biden’s upcoming West Asia trip, which will see him visit Israel later this month.
Abbas also received a phone call from interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid on 8 July, in a marked departure from his predecessor’s policies regarding communication with the PA.
According to one of the Palestinian president’s senior aides at the meeting with Gantz, Hussein al-Sheikh, Abbas emphasized the need to create a “political horizon”, the need to respect signed agreements and the need to stop actions and measures that lead to the deterioration of political incidents and circumstances.
Abbas also called for a “calm atmosphere before President Biden’s visit, which we welcome,” Al-Sheikh said.
According to reports, the Israeli security apparatus has shown concern over a possible escalation of tension in the occupied West Bank during the US president’s visit.
The Israeli Channel 12 news agency reported on 7 July that Israel is concerned over Biden’s lack of a US peace initiative, which may spark an escalation of tension across the West Bank during his visit.
Another report, which remains unconfirmed, also said that US presidential staff have started to arrive in Tel Aviv in preparation for the presidential visit.
According to a statement from the office of Gantz, the meeting between the Israeli minister and the Palestinian president was carried out under “positive terms,” with the two agreeing to “continue security coordination and to avoid activities that may cause instability.”
Recently, there has been renewed dissatisfaction among Palestinians in the areas under PA control, as surging food costs and an imminent hunger crisis looming over Palestine last month resulted in protests demanding a quick governmental solution to the crisis.
“If the government is unable or unwilling to intervene, we will be calling for its departure,” a Palestinian protest organizer, Rami al-Jnaidi, said on 6 June.
The comment by Al-Jnaidi reinforces the widely prominent anti-PA sentiment built up among Palestinians since the Israeli-backed PA forces murdered activist Nizar Banat last year.
In September 2021, it was confirmed by military prosecutors that Nizar Banat was beaten by PA forces while he was asleep.
The PA, which regularly coordinates with Israel, has been accused of being an extension of the occupation, and of being a tool to assist Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.