Right-wing members of Israel’s coalition government criticized Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday for meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas the day before.

Gantz hosted Abbas at his home in central Israel on Tuesday to discuss a number of security and civilian topics. Gantz told Abbas that he intended to continue advancing “confidence-building measures” in the economic and civilian sphere, according to a government statement.

“Gantz emphasized the parties’ shared interest in deepening security coordination, maintaining regional stability and preventing terror and violence,” the statement added.

Housing and Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin said that Gantz hadn’t been given authority from the government to conduct political negotiations, “and he knows it,” Channel 12 reported.

Furthermore, Gantz’s decision to host Abbas while the latter still supports terrorists demonstrates the defense minister’s “poor taste,” said Elkin.

“It would have been better if he had found another guest,” he said.

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel noted that Abbas still denies the Holocaust, and accused the Palestinian leader of playing “a very strange and double game.”

“We have an interest in the Palestinian Authority being strong and stable in its field. We do not trust its people on security issues, but we have an interest in the P.A. not collapsing. If a meeting of this kind helps Gantz—it’s his decision. I personally would not do it,” he said, according to the report.

This was the second meeting between Gantz and Abbas. The two met in August in what was the first high-level talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders since 2010.


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