Gantz Says Weakening of Palestinian Authority Threatens Israel's Security

Doubling down on his recent high-profile diplomatic meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Gantz says 'Israel's relationship with the Palestinians is critical for its security'

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the Knesset last month.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the Knesset last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The years-long weakening of the Palestinian Authority, widely unpopular among the Palestinian public, has served to strengthen Hamas and threaten Israel's security, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Monday.

While Gantz maintained that the Israeli government refuses to negotiate with the Palestinian leadership, he stressed that maintaining a "diplomatic horizon," is within Israeli interests.

Gantz has been a vocal proponent of increased cooperation with the PA despite criticism from right-wing lawmakers among the governing coalition. Since taking office, he has hosted unprecedented public meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, most recently in his own home in Rosh Ha'ayin, Abbas' first formal meeting in Israel since 2010.

"Whether we like it or not, the Palestinian Authority is the legitimate and recognized leadership of our neighbors and has been for years," Gantz told the Knesset during a debate over his high-profile meetings with Abbas. "All Israeli governments since its founding have cooperated with it and had deep disagreements.

"The PA leadership also knows that in order to advance and develop the relationship with Israel they must increase efforts to fight terror, end payments to families of terrorists and block international actions against us."

In contrast to the under-the-radar diplomacy adopted by most Israeli leaders, Gantz added that he chose to approach the PA publicly because "the years-long deterioration of the PA, as well as the concealment of the relationship, strengthened Hamas, hurt Israel's security and failed in practice.

"The Abraham Accords – and it's a good thing that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went ahead with them – were made possible partly because we stopped a one-sided annexation," cited Gantz.

"In every meeting I have with American, European and other officials, they focus on this issue, ask questions and take interest, and support the steps taken that promote regional stability.

"Even if we close our eyes and say that the Palestinians don't interest the world, reality has time and again proven otherwise. And even if they didn't interest the world, our relationship with the Palestinians is critical for our security, the future of our children and what our country will look like," Gantz said.

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