By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News -
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will not meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as he is not a partner for peace, Israel’s Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said Tuesday morning.
Shaked’s comments came during a keynote conversation at the International Institute For Counter-Terrorism’s annual International Conference on Counter-Terrorism in Herzilya, where she criticized the PA’s policy of paying salaries to terrorists and the families of terrorists killed while attacking Israelis – the so called “pay for slay” scheme.
“As far as Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] goes, my opinion is known and hasn’t changed. Abu Mazen pays money to terrorists who murder Jews – the more you murder, the more money you get,” she said. “He sues IDF soldiers and commanders at The Hague and therefore is not a partner [for peace].
“The prime minister won’t meet with him and doesn’t intend to meet with him,” she added.
While Bennett himself will not meet with Abbas, his government has made it clear that it intends to prop up the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, which is polling poorly among Palestinians and is beset by financial mismanagement.
In late August, Defense Minister Benny Gantz held an unprecedented meeting with Abbas in which Israel offered the PA a sum of NIS 500 million ($155 million) in an arrangement described by Gantz the following day as a loan.
In addition to the loan, which is being used to circumvent an Israeli law requiring the government to withhold in taxes the amount paid by Ramallah for pay-for-slay, the pair also agreed on moving ahead with Israel to give amnesty to illegal immigrants living in the West Bank.
However, an official close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett downplayed the meeting, denying it had any role to play in a potential peace agreement.
“This is a meeting that deals with security issues. There is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians nor will there be,” the official said in a statement.
Days later, Abbas met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo where the leaders discussed the importance of resuming negotiations for a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as supporting Abbas’ resistance to “dangerous repercussions” stemming from Jewish building in Judea and Samaria.
During the ongoing tensions between Gaza-based terror groups and Israel, Egypt has emerged as a critically important interlocutor, largely facilitating the ceasefire agreement that ended May 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls and reportedly pressuring Hamas to temporarily suspend arson balloon attacks on Israel’s southern communities.
Last month, Egypt’s head intelligence officer visited Israel. Bennett in turn met with el-Sisi in the south Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, the first meeting between the two leaders since Bennett took office.
Following the meeting, Bennett announced: “I have just finished my first visit with the President of Egypt. The meeting was very important and very good. During the meeting, first and foremost, we created an infrastructure for a deep connection to move forward.
“We discussed a range of issues in the political, security, economic, and ways to deepen the relationship and strengthen the interests of our countries.”
He added: “Israel is opening up to the countries of the region, and the basis for this long-awaited recognition is the peace between Israel and Egypt. Therefore, on both sides, we must invest in strengthening this relationship, and we did that today.”
Lauren Marcus contributed to this report.
Image: Mark Neyman / Government Press Office (Israel), CC BY-SA 3.0 <;, via Wikimedia Commons