Bennett Has No Plans to Meet With President Abbas, Israeli Minister Says

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Israel's Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked during a press conference in Jerusalem in May.
Israel's Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked during a press conference in Jerusalem in May. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has no plans to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying Abbas is no “partner” to Israel.

“Abu Mazan [Abbas] is paying money to terrorists that murder Jews and is filing lawsuits in The Hague against Israel Defense Forces soldiers – he’s not a partner,” Shaked said during a conference at Reichman University in Herzliya.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, however, did meet with Abbas last month in the first official meeting between a senior Israeli official and the Palestinian president in years. Afterward, sources close to Bennett said the government had no intention of resuming negotiations with the PA and that Bennett himself had no plans at the moment to meet with Abbas.

“There were no plans for a meeting between the prime minister and the PA chairman and no such meeting is expected,” Matan Sidi, Bennett’s spokesman said last Wednesday following a report in the London-based Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that a meeting between the two leaders in Egypt had been called off at the last minute.

Bennett met on Monday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi for the first time since he took office in June. The meeting took place in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh against the background of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza in recent days.

Cairo has been seeking to begin a reconstruction program for the Gaza Strip following Hamas’ last war with Israel in May. Egypt sees a high-profile meeting with the Israeli leader as a way of improving relations with the Biden administration and enhancing its role as a patron of the Palestinians in Gaza.

Following the meeting with al-Sissi, Bennett met on Tuesday with Avera Mengistu's family. Mengistu crossed the border into Gaza in 2014 and is considered to be held be Hamas to this day.

A statement from Bennett's offices said that the meeting was part of  a "regular check-in" being held with the families of those who were kidnapped or went missing.  

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