PA President Abbas meets Israel’s Gantz before Biden visit

Meeting in Ramallah comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank next week.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses as he listens during a joint statement with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in West Bank city of Ramallah. Abbas met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz at Gantz's private residence in a Tel Aviv suburb late Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. The two discussed security coordination
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas received Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz at the PA's headquarters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah [File: AP Photo/Alex Brandon]

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), has met Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz, days before United States President Joe Biden’s scheduled visit to the region next week.

The meeting, held late on Thursday at the PA’s headquarters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, was the third between the two in less than a year.

Abbas stressed the “importance of preparing the calm atmosphere” before Biden’s visit, senior PA official Hussein al-Sheikh said in a statement on Twitter, adding that the PA welcomed the US president’s trip.

The PA president also “stressed the importance of creating a political horizon” as well as “respecting the signed agreements and stopping the actions and measures that lead to the deterioration of the situation”, al-Sheikh said.

For his part, Gantz said on Twitter the meeting was held “for the purpose of security and civil coordination in preparation” for Biden’s visit.

He noted it involved an agreement “to continue close security coordination” between the PA and Israel.

The controversial policy requires the PA, which administers pockets of the occupied West Bank, to share intelligence information about Palestinian activists and those wanted by Israel.

Palestinians have consistently called for an end to the policy, including in large anti-PA protests last year that unfolded after PA security forces beat to death a prominent critic.

Ramallah-based writer and researcher Mariam Barghouti described the meeting as “adding salt to a wound”.

“It’s very telling of where the PA stands and its complete disregard and disrespect of the Palestinian need to live in dignity, to live in freedom,” Barghouti told Al Jazeera.

‘Large rift’

Abbas and Gantz last met publicly in December 2021 at the latter’s home in Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel. They also met in August in Ramallah.

Biden is expected to visit Israel, the occupied West Bank and Saudi Arabia between July 13-16.

A statement last month by the White House said he would meet Israeli leaders “to reinforce the United States’ iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security and prosperity” and to discuss “its increasing integration into the greater region”.

He will also visit the West Bank “to consult with the Palestinian Authority” and “to reiterate his strong support for a two-state solution”, the statement said.

Palestinian political and civil society leader Khalida Jarrar said “the Palestinian street rejects such meetings” which “infringe upon the struggle of the Palestinian people [against occupation].”

Jarrar told Al Jazeera she believes “the PA is continuing to bet on the Americans and the delusion that Biden’s visit will present something to the Palestinians.

“This ensures that there is a large rift between the Palestinian people and their aspirations, and the actions of their leadership.”

Source: Al Jazeera