Meretz Confronts Gantz on Palestinian Policies

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz (left) huddling with Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid in the Knesset. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The pre-existing ideological conditions of Israel’s unity government found expression on Thursday in a meeting to discuss policies toward the Palestinians and other issues.

Sounding like a post-summit communiqué, the two sides, representing the left and centrist wings of the coalition, issued a joint statement after the meeting, outlining their positions.

The statement said that Meretz members raised concerns about violence by Jewish Israelis against Palestinians, building approvals in Yehuda and Shomron, and the government’s recent agreement with the residents of illegally constructed outpost Evyatar, to leave their homes peacefully in exchange for potential retroactive permits later on.

“Health Minister (and Meretz leader) Nitzan Horovitz stressed that Meretz always led the fight for peace and a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would continue to do so. Even under this government, the issue remains at the top of the Meretz party’s list of priorities: not allowing unilateral actions that will deepen the conflict or make it harder for Israel to reach an agreement in the future,” according to the statement quoted by The Times of Israel.

In general terms, Gantz told the Meretz members that his priority is preservation of national security “while advancing peace and the diplomatic processes that allow it.”

More specifically, he said he shares their desire to improve Israel’s ties with the Palestinian Authority, which deteriorated under former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

On the issue of violence against Palestinians, Gantz said he agreed that such incidents are unacceptable, and that the military was devoting resources to maintaining “law and order between the two sides.”

Gantz defended his decision to support the Evyatar compromise, saying that “the agreement set a precedent that there won’t be illegal settlement, while preserving the unity of the nation and the coalition and preventing violence.”