PA President Reportedly Warns Benny Gantz of 'Unstoppable' Escalation If Mount Temple Rules Violated

© REUTERS / Mohamad TorokmanPresident Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/Pool/File Photo
President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/Pool/File Photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.12.2021
The Israeli defence minister hosted the president of the Palestinian Authority at his home despite protests from right-wing opposition parties and even criticism from some members of the governing coalition, reportedly including the prime minister.
President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas warned Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz that violence might erupt if the religious status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is changed by Tel Aviv, Israeli Channels 12 and 13 have reported. Abbas reportedly predicted an "unstoppable" escalation if Israel alters the existing rules regarding the site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Neither of the TV channels elaborated on what changes Abbas meant specifically. However, there have been reports lately that Israel has been turning a blind eye to violations of the long-term ban on Jewish prayers on the Temple Mount. The rule was introduced soon after Israel seized Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six-Day War in 1967 as a means of reducing tensions with the Muslim world over the seizure of the holy site.
Abbas reportedly issued his warning to Gantz during their bilateral meeting on 29 December at the defence minister's home. During the meeting, the PA leader reportedly said he was committed to ending violence in the West Bank and proposed reducing the IDF presence there. In return, Abbas suggested giving greater freedom to the Palestinian security forces, promising that they would crack down on sources of violence against Israel as well.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz adjusts his mask during the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem August 1, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.10.2021
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The meeting between the Palestinian president and Gantz was heavily criticised by Israeli opposition parties as well as some of Gantz's own allies in the governing coalition. Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin from the New Hope party lambasted the defence minister for inviting Abbas, who is trying to prosecute Israeli servicemen, Gantz included, at the International Criminal Court.
On the other hand, some left-wing parties in Israel's governing coalition backed Gantz's efforts. Leader of the Yesh Atid party Foreign Minister Yair Lapid argued that it was essential for Israel's security to coordinate with the PA. Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the Meretz party, in turn, praised the defence minister's move, underscoring that "strengthening the ties and striving for a diplomatic solution" should be the top priority for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
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