Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday approved a series of “confidence-building” measures between Israel and the Palestinian Authority ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s arrival in Israel on Wednesday.

The measures were approved after a meeting last week between Gantz and P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, and additional steps are under consideration according to Channel 12 News.

Among steps approved by Gantz are the approval of six outlines for Palestinian construction in Judea and Samaria, and allowing an additional 1,500 workers into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

A new crossing between Israel and the Palestinian territories will also be opened in northern Judea and Samaria to allow Israeli Arabs access to Jenin, according to the report.

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman sharply criticized the measures, saying that they come at the expense of Zionism and Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.

“Gantz is approving … construction plans for Arabs in Gush Etzion, during a year in which we barely saw any permits issued for Jewish construction. This is a disparaging farewell gift to Gush Etzion from the Bennett-Lapid government,” he said.

“These approvals give the P.A. the green light to transfer Arab residents of Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria to Area C, the part under full Israeli control, effectively allowing them to take over strategic swaths of land,” said Ne’eman.

“This transfer de facto puts Area C under the control of the P.A. These are very serious steps from a national perspective and a Zionist one. The defense minister from Blue and White/New Hope is actually giving new hope [regarding] the establishment of a P.A. state,” he added.

“If the State of Israel has to pay such a steep price to welcome President Joe Biden, who needs a guest like this?” he said.

Despite the confidence-building measures and the series of top-level meetings between Israel and the P.A. in recent days, the Palestinians are not expecting a political announcement to be made during Biden’s visit, according to Channel 12.

During Biden’s two-day visit to Israel, he is scheduled to meet with Abbas for only 45 minutes and expected to deal mainly with financial aid, according to the report.

JNS

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