Bennett will not sit down with Abbas: Israeli interior minister

Bennett will not sit down with Abbas: Israeli interior minister
Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told an audience at Reichman University that Naftali Bennett will not meet with Abbas because of the war crimes trial at The Hague.
2 min read
14 September, 2021
Ayelet Shaked was speaking at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will not meet Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, according to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked

This is due to the PA saying Israel is guilty of war crimes and its petition for a trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as continued payments to the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, Shaked said.

"Abu Mazen pays money to terrorists who murder Jews," Shaked claimed at the annual conference of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy at Reichman University, referring to the Palestinian president.

"The prime minister won't meet with him [Abbas] and doesn't intend to meet with him," she added. 

As well as being Israeli interior minister, Shaked is also Bennett's second-in-command in the right-wing Yamina Party

Bennett himself hinted that he would not seek a thaw in relations with Abbas during an off-the-record video call with leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, according to a source who revealed details to The Times of Israel

"As someone who comes from the business world, when someone sues me, I'm not really that nice to him," said Bennett. 

In March, the ICC's chief prosecutor announced that she was opening an investigation to determine if war crimes had been committed by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza since June 2014.

The investigation was opened following a request by Abbas. 

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While Bennett has refused to sit down with the Palestinian president, Israel Defence Minister Benny Gantz has held a high-level meeting with Abbas. 

Gantz informed Abbas that Israel would work to strengthen the Palestinian economy, according to a statement released by the defence minister’s office, although it was not revealed what specific steps would be taken. 

And elsewhere, Bennett has sought to progress the peace process during recent talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. 

Cairo is frequently called upon to help broker peace between Israel and Hamas, most recently when they negotiated a ceasefire following 11 days of brutal Israeli bombardment of Gaza.