Abbas calls Gantz with holiday wishes, discusses West Bank security

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Defense Minister Benny Gantz to congratulate him on the Jewish New Year, the AP WAFA news agency reported.

The short statement does not elaborate on the talks, which come amid rising tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

An Israeli official confirmed the talks and said the two men also discussed the security situation. There has been no official confirmation from Gantz’s office with the call coming on Rosh Hashanah.

The Walla news site said the conversation was short.

During their conversation, Gantz stressed the importance of maintaining security and public order in the West Bank during the holidays, according to Army Radio, and underscored the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority in this regard. .

Reports also said that Gantz and Abbas had discussed continued cooperation between the Israeli military and Palestinian Authority security forces.

It comes after months of growing tension in the West Bank and amid several violent clashes in recent days between Palestinians and police in East Jerusalem and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

Earlier Monday, Palestinians clashed with police in Jerusalem’s Old City as Jewish visitors visited the Temple Mount flashpoint to mark the Jewish New Year.

Police said a group of young Palestinians barricaded themselves overnight in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and began setting off fireworks from inside as Rosh Hashanah visits began.

On Sunday, shortly after the start of Rosh Hashanah, Palestinian rioters fired fireworks at Border Police in East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood. No injuries were reported.

An Israeli Border Police officer stands at his post near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, which is under heightened security for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/ Maya allerzzo)

Gantz has been the main point of contact between Israel and the Palestinian leader since the government took power in 2021. He first spoke by phone with Abbas in mid-July 2021. The two men later spoke officially met in Ramallah at the end of August, marking the first such high-level contact between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials in more than a decade.

Since then, Gantz has met with the aging PA chairman several times over the past year, most recently in July to discuss security coordination ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and the West Bank.

The meetings were criticized by right-wing members of the ruling coalition and the opposition, and even met resistance from former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett while in office.

Netanyahu claimed that during his tenure as prime minister, his government’s isolation of the Palestinian Authority leader “successfully resulted in four historic peace agreements with Arab states”, referring to the Abraham Accords, which gave rise to diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and triggered a process to establish full relations with Sudan.

Gantz defended his meetings with Abbas by arguing that they were crucial for security reasons, adding that he and Abbas believe in maintaining security ties in order to stabilize the region.

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