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Bennett and Gantz Renew Relations With Palestinian Authority

(August 2021)

On August 27, 2021, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met President Joe Biden for the first time in Washington. During the meeting Biden raised the issue of reconstruction in Gaza. The U.S. has made this a priority but Bennett said he would agree on three conditions: no more rockets fired from Gaza at Israel; ending the smuggling of missiles into Gaza; and ending the crisis of the Israeli civilians and bodies of soldiers held captive by Hamas in Gaza.

Two days after Bennett met with President Biden, Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah “to discuss security-policy, civilian and economic issues.” Gantz said, “I told Chairman Abbas that Israel seeks to take measures that will strengthen the PA's economy.”

This was the first high level, face-to-face public meeting between Abbas and an Israeli official in a decade.

“I came to the meeting to build trust and safeguard the interests of the State of Israel, and to strengthen our important ties with the Palestinian Authority,” Gantz said.”

Israel offered to loan $155 million to the PA and pay itself back from the $186 million it withheld in tax revenue designated for the PA. That amount was deducted from the amount of taxes collected for remittance to the PA based on an Israeli law requiring the government to offset payments made by the PA under its “pay-for-slay” policy.

Later, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman agreed, “The Palestinian Authority’s stability is an Israeli interest. We will do everything necessary to maintain that stability.”

The Abbas meeting was consistent with Bennett’s discussions with Biden during which the prime minister said that Israel had no interest in resuming peace talks with the Palestinians but does want to take steps to improve the economic situation in the territories.

Sources: Jonathan Lis, “‘No Diplomatic Process With the Palestinians,’ Source Close to Bennett Says After Gantz Meets Abbas,” Haaretz, (August 30, 2021).
Tovah Lazaroff and Lahav Harkov, “Gantz meets Abbas in Ramallah after Bennett's US visit,” Jerusalem Post, (August 30, 2021).
Judah Ari Gross, “Israel agrees to send NIS 500 million to PA, bypassing terror stipend freeze,” Times of Israel, (August 30, 2021).