U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday that the United States was “very pleased” with the meeting on Tuesday between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“We hope confidence-building measures discussed will accelerate momentum to further advance freedom, security and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike in 2022,” tweeted Price.

Gantz hosted Abbas at his home in central Israel on Tuesday, for the second meeting between the two this year. The first, which took place in August, was the first high-level meeting between Israel and the Palestinian leadership since 2010.

According to Gantz, the two discussed “the implementation of economic and civilian measures, and emphasized the importance of deepening security coordination and preventing terror and violence—for the well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

The measures discussed included “status approvals on a humanitarian basis for 6,000 [Palestinian] residents of Judea and Samaria, and an additional status approval for 3,500 Gaza residents,” according to a statement from Gantz’s office.

Also discussed were “advancing the transfer of tax payments” worth NIS 100 million ($32 million) to the P.A., according to the statement.

The meeting drew the ire of figures on the Israeli right, who claimed that the government had not been notified of the meeting ahead of time.

Gantz did not have a mandate to conduct political negotiations with Abbas, “and he knows it,” said Housing and Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin, according to Channel 12.

The decision to host Abbas while the latter still supports terrorists was also in “poor taste,” said Elkin.

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

Noting that Abbas still denies the Holocaust, Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said that the Palestinian leader was 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.

In an apparent response to his critics, the defense minister, who previously served as the head of the Israeli military, tweeted on Wednesday: “Only those who bear the responsibility of sending soldiers into battle know how deep is the commitment to prevent it. This is how I have always acted, and this is how I will continue to act.”


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