Two members of the left-wing Meretz party have arranged to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas next week in Ramallah, The Times of Israel said on Thursday.
Meretz chairman and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Regional Cooperation Minister Isawi Frej have both met with Palestinian leaders before, and dismissed any problem in doing so, even though Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said recently that he would not meet with Abbas, as he remains opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Frej told Army Radio that the coalition agreement signed with right-wing and centrist parties does not prevent them from talking with the PA.
“We are in a government that agreed to disagree. We didn’t agree to not meet” the Palestinian leader, he said. “There is no need to get excited; we are still not solving the Palestinian problem.”
In fact, despite Bennett’s stance, his government committed recently to a series of measures to strengthen the Palestinian economy, including a sizable loan and expanding the number work permits in Israel. The measures were announced after Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Abbas in Ramallah in August.
However, Gantz also stipulated that Israeli assistance to the PA was not connected to peace negotiations. In this case, though, the MKs are going to Ramallah to talk politics, according to a Channel 12 report.
The meeting was scheduled after Abbas last week sent invitations to Horowitz and Frej, it said.
Bennett’s office said in response at the time that it had received no requests from the ministers to meet with Abbas.