It didn't take long for President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to be shown up as inept political leaders following the much-publicised visit by President of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Chairman of Fatah its largest faction – Mahmoud Abbas - to the home of Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz.
Their two-and-a-half hour's meeting was Abbas's first in Israel since meeting then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem in 2010.
Whilst Bennett privately criticized Gantz's intention to hold the meeting and expressed resentment about the hosting of Abbas in Gantz's home – he did nothing to prevent it occurring.
Some Ministers in Bennett's Government were not so circumspect.
Housing Minister Ze'ev Elkin said:
I wouldn't have invited to my home someone who pays salaries to murderers of Israelis and also wants to put senior IDF officers in prison in The Hague, including the host himself.
Elkin was referring to Abbas's:
- Pay for slay policy: paying monthly stipends to terrorists in Israeli jails and the families of slain terrorists killed while committing terror attacks. These annual payments now total over US$300 million – about 8% of Abbas's budget.
- Campaign to see Israeli security officials - including Gantz - a former Israeli chief of staff - being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court as war criminals.
Israel's Communications Minister - Yoaz Hendel – said he:
...personally wouldn't have met" with Abbas, who "in my eyes is still a Holocaust denier and is playing a very strange double game.
However Abbas's visit brought this effusive response from US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price:
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