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Report: Benny Gantz told PA chief Abbas he wants to be ‘the new Rabin’

Defense chief said to reiterate backing for two-state solution in meeting in late August, while citing ‘limits’ of new government

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (left) attends a conference in the Eshkol region, southern Israel. on July 13, 2021; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech regarding COVID-19, at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 5, 2020. (Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (left) attends a conference in the Eshkol region, southern Israel. on July 13, 2021; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech regarding COVID-19, at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 5, 2020. (Flash90)

During a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in August, Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterated his backing for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while suggesting that any major peace initiative was unlikely under the new government, Israeli television reported on Friday.

Gantz met with Abbas in late August, the first such high-level face-to-face meeting in over a decade, and one of a series of contacts between the PA and Israel’s government since it was formed in June.

According to Channel 12 news, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh relayed details of the meeting between Gantz and Abbas in a recent sit-down he held with Arab Israeli activists and journalists.

“I believe in the two-state solution and believe it is the appropriate solution,” Gantz was quoted as telling Abbas.

“I want to be the new [Yitzhak] Rabin but in this government there are limits,” he reportedly added, referring to the late Israeli premier who signed the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Gantz’s office told the network that the quotes were “not exact,” without elaborating.

The report also said that Abbas threatened to call for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1947 UN Partition Plan — which was accepted at the time by Jewish leaders, but rejected by the Arab population — if the new government does not endorse the two-state solution.

“If the current government doesn’t want to accept the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, we will act to advance another solution — the 1947 Partition Plan,” the PA chief was said to tell Gantz.

The 1947 plan would have given the land’s Arabs (then not yet known as Palestinians) a far greater chunk of territory.

Gantz was reportedly taken aback by the comment.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas holds a placard showing maps of (left to right) historical Palestine, the 1937 Peel Commission partition plan, the 1947 United Nations partition plan on Palestine, the 1948-1967 armistice lines between the Palestinian territories and Israel, and a map of then-US President Donald Trump’s proposal for a Palestinian state, as he speaks in the West Bank’s Ramallah, on September 3, 2020, (Alaa Badarneh/Pool/AFP)

While Gantz and the coalition’s centrist and leftist politicians in the coalition back a two-state solution, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party and the fellow-right wing party New Hope are opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Bennett reiterated his opposition to a Palestinian state in an interview last month, while also voicing support for continued ties and connections with Palestinian officials in order to maintain calm and security coordination.

Both Bennett and Abbas addressed the United Nations General Assembly late last month. The prime minister made no mention of the Palestinians in his speech, while Abbas demanded Israel withdraw to the 1967 lines within a year or face repercussions.

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