Bennett, Abbas, and Gantz
Bennett, Abbas, and GantzReuters and Flash 90

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has decided to take a number of steps to strengthen the Palestinian Authority following his meeting with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas Sunday night.

The government among other things, to lend the Palestinian Authority half a billion shekels($155 million), which will be repaid from the June 2022 tax money Israel collects on behalf of the PA, with the approval of Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman. In addition, Israel will increase employment permits by 15,000 workers, add 1,000 workers in the tourism industry and issue building permits in Area C.

Israel will also begin determining the humanitarian status of thousands of Palestinian Arabs living without documentation in Judea and Samaria today, including people who came from the Gaza Strip years ago, and visitors who came from abroad and married at an older age.

Gantz told military reporters today that "I came to the meeting to build trust and preserve the interests of the State of Israel and our important ties with the Palestinian Authority, which I believe need to be strengthened."

"I told Abu Mazen (Abbas) and I also tell you that neither we nor the Palestinians are going anywhere tomorrow morning," he said. "The stronger the Palestinian Authority, the weaker Hamas will be, and the more governance it will have, the more security there will be and we will have to act less."

Addressing Israel's relationship with the US following Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington, Gantz said: "The United States and Israel share intelligence information, and cooperation in the region with the United States is growing. We are also working to define what PLAN B is and if we see that there is no agreement, other actions will begin."

On the Iranian threat, the minister emphasized that "if Iran reaches the nuclear threshold, I have no doubt that many countries will also try to acquire this capability and create an arms race that will endanger many countries in the world and not just the Middle East."

On the Gaza Strip, the defense minister said: "We said that what was is not what will be, and what was is not what is happening now. Also in the nature and intensity of our reactions, also in the transfer of Qatari money whose mechanism is different, and also in the civil issues and the dependence of the rehabilitation of Gaza on the issue of the prisoners and the missing persons, as I said at the end of the campaign."

"Our attacks in Gaza are targeted and hit with intensive elements that hurt Hamas and deprive it of capabilities. I cannot guarantee that we will not continue from where we left off on day 12 of Operation Guardian of the Walls."