‘Israel to strengthen ties with Palestinian Authority despite no peace deal’

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Jerusalem:  Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said that Israel will strengthen its ties with the Palestinian Authority despite no intention to negotiate a peace deal with it.

The remarks were made at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, in response to a no-confidence motion over Gantz’s meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in recent months, Xinhua news agency reported. Although the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will not negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinian leadership, Israel “must keep a diplomatic horizon” with the Palestinians and the ties with the Palestinian leadership “will get stronger and deeper,” Gantz told the parliament.

Coordination and frequent talks between Israel and the Palestinians “are critical for our security, for the future of our children and how our state will look,” he said. “The years-long weakening of the Palestinian Authority … has strengthened Hamas and hurt Israel’s security,” the Israeli minister added.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority forces from the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has since controlled and ruled the coastal enclave. In late December of 2021, Gantz and Abbas met at Gantz’s home in the city of Rosh Ha’Ayin in central Israel to discuss economic and security issues.

A day later, Israel made a series of gestures to improve relations with the Palestinian Authority, including the transfer of 100 million new shekels’ ($31.5 million) worth of tax payments that Israel has been collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Gantz and Abbas first met on August 30, 2021, in the first face-to-face meeting between the Palestinian president and a senior Israeli official since 2010.

Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war and kept its control over the territory despite international criticism.-IANS

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