Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterated the Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was aware of his meeting with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas earlier this week, and stated that he and the prime minister agreed on the policy that the PA should be strengthened to prevent its collapse.
"It was an important meeting," Gantz said in an interview with Channel 12 News. "Those who think that this formula is simple to manage are wrong. It is complex. Bennett also thinks that Abu Mazen should be strengthened."
On the criticisms against him after the meeting, including from a coalition source who claimed that the defense minister was running a "government within the government," Gantz said: "I suggest we look at Israel's security relations from a more significant height than a Twitter headline. It is possible to reach an agreement at the moment, Abu Mazen also knows it. The meeting was important and I hope that its good results will be seen in the coming days."
"I'm not getting into whoever is leaking against me," the minister said. "I am at the center of the political map and I can get attacks from the left and the right. I cooperate as much as possible." On Bennett's performance as prime minister, Gantz said: "He is doing a very good and very dedicated job. He is committed to it and I am happy about it. I have worked to form this government - and we are constantly working on the existence of this coalition, there is also a budget we want to pass."
In the interview, Gantz also referred to the incident on the Gaza border in which Border Police officer Barel Hadarya Shmueli was killed and to criticism of the circumstances that led to the dire outcome: "I understand the family's pain. We have a duty to investigate the incident. It is an event that we take very seriously, we will continue to act very firmly and the army will investigate this operationally. The defense minister also clarified that the quieter the Gaza Strip is, "the better the situation of the residents of the Gaza Strip will be. The more it does not happen - we will know that we have to take harsher steps."
Gantz also referred to the fate of the military radio station Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio), which he only recently decided to close - and said that its closure is currently only a possibility: "Galei Tzahal should continue to function state-wide and keep soldiers away from politics. The option of closing it is still on the table."