Mahmoud Abbas renews dialogue with Israel

The interview remained secret until the last moment. It took place in the evening, without photography or speech. But on Sunday, August 29, Mahmoud Abbas did finally come to terms with it: in his Muqata’a palace in Ramallah, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) met, for the first time since 2014, a minister Israeli, Benny Gantz, in charge of defense.

This initiation of dialogue confirms the fall of Benyamin Netanyahu, whose government Mr. Abbas officially boycotted for more than three years. She confirms in passing that for him, the coalition which deposed Mr. Netanyahu in June will not be ephemeral. It finally comes immediately after the first visit of the new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, to Washington.

Faced with Mr. Bennett, on August 27, US President Joe Biden was little dissenting on the Palestinian question, relegated to the bottom of his concerns. However, Mr. Biden pointed out “The importance of measures to improve the lives of Palestinians”. Sthe administration also asked Israel to“Mitigate the risks” after the last conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in May.

“There is no diplomatic process”

Mr. Bennett’s office made a point of underlining, on Monday, the importance of an exchange of ” routine “ between the military authority and the PA. “There is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians, and there won’t be”, specified an anonymous official close to the Prime Minister. Was it needed? This former representative of the West Bank settlers affirmed it in June: relations with the Palestinian Authority will be limited, during his term of office, to the economic and security fields alone. On Monday, Mr. Gantz summed up this logic in his own way, arguing that “The stronger the Palestinian Authority, the weaker Hamas will be (…). The greater its capacity to govern, the safer we will be, and the less we will have to do ourselves ”.

As a first step, residence permits will therefore be granted to residents of the West Bank without legal status. Some 5,000 people (out of around 50,000) will be affected first, Hussein Al-Sheikh, head of security cooperation with Israel, who attended Sunday’s interview confirmed Monday evening. Many of them are spouses of Palestinians, whose citizenship Israel refuses to ratify, the Jewish state controlling civil registers in the territories.

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