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Abbas discusses 'deepening security coordination' with Gantz in rare meeting in Israel

ARLINGTON, VA - DECEMBER 09: Israeli Minister of Defense Benjamin Benny Gantz meets U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (not seen) at the Pentagon on December 9, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. ( Yasin Öztürk - Anadolu Agency )
Israeli Minister of Defense Benjamin Benny Gantz, 9 December 2021 in Virginia, US [Yasin Öztürk/Anadolu Agency]

In his first meeting in Israel since 2010, Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas, held talks with Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, where the two leaders discussed the importance of "deepening security coordination," and combating terrorism.

Gantz hosted Abbas on Tuesday night at his home on Rosh Ha'ayin. The city was founded in 1949 on the depopulated Palestinian village of Majdal Yaba. It marked the first time the Palestinian leader held talks with a senior official in the occupation for over a decade.

The meeting is said to have lasted for two and a half hours and included the head of the Israeli military branch responsible for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories, Ghasan Alyan, senior PA official, Hussein Al Sheikh, and Palestinian Intelligence Chief, Majid Faraj.

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Details of the meeting released by the two sides emphasised on different outcomes. The Israeli side focused on security, whereas the Palestinian side emphasised the need for ending Israel's ongoing occupation and establishing a solution based on international law.

"The Defence Minister emphasised the shared interest in strengthening security cooperation, preserving security stability, and preventing terrorism and violence," Gantz's office said in a statement.

In a tweet yesterday, Gantz emphasised security coordination. "We discussed the implementation of economic and civilian measures", with Abbas, said Gantz "and emphasised the importance of deepening security coordination and preventing terror and violence."

The PA did not mention deepening security coordination with Israel and, instead, had a different take on the meeting. "President #Abbas met with Minister #Gantz, where they discussed the importance of creating a political horizon that leads to a political solution in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions" said Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister, Hussein Al Sheikh, in a tweet.

READ: Palestine is still torn between Israel's brutal occupation, a compliant PA and resistance

The pair also discussed "the tense conditions on the ground due to the practices of settlers, and the meeting dealt with many security, economic and humanitarian issues", according to Al Sheikh.

In recent months there has been a rise in settler violence against Palestinians. In another indication of the extremely violent turn of Israeli society, extremist Israeli Jewish groups threatened Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev. He has been assigned round-the-clock security protection.

Bar-Lev had raised concerns over the rise of settler violence with US officials and said that that he was working to put an end to it.

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