Palestinian factions slam Abbas-Gantz meeting

Gaza: Leaders of the Palestinian factions, including the Islamic Hamas Movement, have slammed the meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, which was a first-of-its-kind since 2010.

Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Hazem Qassem said that the Sunday night meeting “would deepen the Palestinian internal division,” adding “it will encourage some parties in the region to normalise ties with Israel”, reports Xinhua news agency.

Spokesman of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Tareq Silmi said in a statement that the group rejects the meeting, adding that “it is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people who suffer and struggle against the occupation”.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian left-wing factions, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), slammed the meeting, calling on Abbas that he should resolve the internal split and regain unity “instead of meeting Israelis”.

On Sunday night, Abbas and Gantz met in the West Bank city of Ramallah and discussed ways to improve the economic situation of the Palestinian territories, according to Palestinian official and Israeli media reports.

It was the first meeting held between Abbas and a senior Israeli government official since ties between the two sides had been severed in 2014 due to the continued settlement expansion and the measures imposed by the Jewish state in East Jerusalem.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has been pushing the two sides to go for trust-building and resume contacts in a bid to resume the peace talks.