Historic meeting between the Palestinian Authority and Israel in Ramallah
It had been about ten years since a member of the Israeli government had not met the head of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). And it happened Sunday night, in Ramallah, in the West Bank, where Palestinian President Abu Mazen had a historic face-to-face with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
The meeting took place immediately after the summit between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the head of the White House in Washington. No issues other than Iran seemed to emerge – was immediately attacked by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Gaza, who defined it as “A dangerous step.” Nevertheless, during the meeting, important agreements were to be reached on hot topics, namely security, diplomacy, civil affairs, and to strengthen the disastrous economy of the PNA.
Bennet, aware of the summit, specified that it is not “a diplomatic path with the Palestinians.” A clarification addressed above all, according to analysts, to his right-wing electorate. The fact is that Abu Mazen and Gantz – first in a meeting alone and then with their respective delegations – agreed on the granting of residence rights to hundreds of people living in the West Bank without legal status. A problem that mainly concerns marriages between foreigners and Palestinians, but also people from Gaza. The parties will accept thousands of regularization requests, Gantz anticipated, but only for people of advanced age and based on criteria to be defined.
Then there is an economic aspect to consider: Israel will advance about 500 million shekels (almost 140 million euros) to the NPC, which has committed to return them in June 2022 with the taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the ‘NPC and that each year amount to over 2 billion euros. Israel, for its part, has pledged to immediately authorize an increase of 15,000 work permits for Palestinian unskilled workers along with a thousand other visas for employees of the tourism industry. In addition, Israel will issue building permits for Palestinian homes residing in Area C of the West Bank, under complete Israeli control under the Oslo Accords.
The measures restarted a dialogue between the parties frozen for years, especially after the initiatives of the Trump administration and under the premiership of Benyamin Netanyahu. And which appear to have the effect of strengthening Abu Mazen’s shaky authority over Hamas. Not surprisingly, Gantz himself stressed that “the stronger the PA, the weaker Hamas will be.” “The greater the PNA’s ability to govern, the greater the security we will have,” he added. From Gaza, Hamas claimed that Sunday evening’s meeting proves that the PNA is more interested in maintaining security coordination with Israel than in supporting the national cause.