Benny Gantz
Benny GantzAvshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Defense Minister Benny Gantz dismissed criticism from the right of his meeting last week with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

"As Defense Minister, my job is to make sure that the IDF is ready for war or battle. As a statesman, my job is to act to prevent war. The need to maintain the security of Israeli citizens and the fight against Hamas are the main reason why I met last week with the Palestinian Authority chairman, and that is why I will continue to meet with him and other elements in the region whose dialogue helps our stability, security and interests. The person who is responsible for sending soldiers into battle is the same person who is responsible for doing everything to prevent that," Gantz said.

On the criticism he received from within the government, he said, "I was disappointed with government ministers who preferred to speak from a political position at the expense of our security needs. In private rooms, they also sound different. For me, wherever the political interest conflicts with security - security must always prevail."

Gantz also responded to criticism that the IDF's response to the rocket fire from Gaza towards the Mediterranean Sea over Shabbat was weak.

"We attacked Gaza two days ago in response to the rockets that fell in the sea. We exacted a price and made it clear to our enemy that mistakes do cost them so that they will ensure that they are not repeated," Gantz said.

Yesterday, Minister Yoaz Hendel (New Hope) criticized the meeting between Abbas and Gantz. "I look at Abbas and I see a Holocaust denier, a person who engages in doublespeak. I see the pictures of those who met with Arafat and am even more filled with a sense of discomfort. I would not have met him even if I were the defense minister," he said.

"It is in our interest, of the State of Israel, that the Palestinian Authority does not collapse. We do not want to be the ones disposing the garbage there and we do not want to be the ones responsible for their education. We do want to come in every few nights and arrest terrorists because there is no other choice," Hendel added.