Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA’s General Authority of Civil Affairs who attended the Sunday night meeting in Ramallah, said that Abbas and Gantz discussed Palestinian-Israeli relations “from all their aspects.”
PA officials refused to provide further details about the meeting, which was also attended by Majed Faraj, head of the PA’s General Intelligence Service.
Several Palestinian factions, most of whom do not recognize Israel’s right to exit and are opposed to any peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis, condemned the meeting with Gantz, dubbing him “the Zionist minister of war” and the “Zionist minister of the army.”
Hamas officials described the meeting as “dangerous” and said that it “reflects the Palestinian Authority’s contempt for Palestinian blood.”
Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said that the meeting “reflects the high level of security cooperation with the occupation and the Palestinian Authority’s disregard for Palestinian interests.”
Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif Qanou denounced the meeting as a “stab in the back of the Palestinian people and their sacrifices.” He also condemned the meeting as a “betrayal of the blood of the martyrs.”
According to the Hamas official, the meeting reflects the continued downfall of the PA and the “abandonment of national values, as well as the beautification of the face of the occupation.”
Hazem Qassem, another Hamas official, said that the Palestinians rejected and condemned the meeting, “which is strange to the national spirit of the Palestinian people.”
Qassem said that such meetings showed that the PA leadership was continuing to live under the illusion that it can achieve anything through the “failed peace process.” He also warned that such meetings would deepen divisions among the Palestinians, “complicate the Palestinian situation and encourage those who want to normalize their relations” with Israel.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) organization said that the meeting came against the backdrop of the “crimes of the occupation, its siege and its aggression” on the Palestinians.
Silmi accused the PA and Abbas of “turning their back on national consensus, and setting conditions that serve the occupation for the resumption of national dialogue, while they race to meet the enemy leaders and put their hands in the hands stained with innocent blood.”
The PLO’s Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that the Abbas-Gantz meeting was a “continuation of the policy of compromising the rights of the Palestinian people.”
Eyad Awadallah, a senior PFLP official, said that the meeting was a “continuation of the policy of futile negotiations and presenting more concessions to the government of crime and killing.” He accused Abbas of walking away from the Palestinian national consensus and violating the resolutions of Palestinian institutions that called for severing ties with Israel. “This meeting comes in the framework of consolidating the security and economic solution by offering more economic bribes in return for preserving the security of the settlers and the occupation,” Awadallah added.
The al-Mujahideen movement in the Gaza Strip said that the PA leadership was wasting its time by betting on the option of negotiations and the good intentions of Israel and the US. “The path of comprehensive resistance is the only way to restore the rights of the Palestinian people,” the group said in a statement. “The meetings with the Zionist leaders encourage the Zionist entity to continue with its policy of aggression against our people.”
Al-Ahrar, a Gaza-based group of Hamas-backed Fatah dissidents, said that the Abbas-Gantz meeting was a continuation of the security cooperation between the PA and Israel. “This is a stab to the Palestinian people, their revolution and their resistance,” the group said. “Such treacherous meetings are not related to political work. This is a new betrayal of national resolutions and the will of the Palestinian people.”
Ghassan Jadallah, a senior member of the Democratic Reform Current headed by ousted Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, also criticized the meeting between Abbas and Gantz. Dahlan, who is based in the United Arab Emirates, is an arch-rival of Abbas.
Jadallah pointed out that the meeting came at a time when Abbas was setting conditions for meeting with his political rivals. “It could take months to arrange a meeting between one Palestinian official and the other,” Jadallah said. “But it takes one phone call to hold a meeting with the minister of war of the enemy.”
Referring to Abbas, the Dahlan loyalist asked: “What political culture is this that some are trying to inculcate in our behavior, when he (Abbas) places a thousand conditions to meet his Palestinian brothers, while he does not even dare to protest against the crimes of his enemy? When will all this immorality and all this arrogance end?”