Gantz in Arab sector elections. photo: Pinhas Inbari

The meeting between Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Defense Minister Benny Gantz reflects a channel of communication between Israel and the Palestinian Authority after a long disconnect and is primarily due to the need to cooperate in the face of Hamas' growing threat to both.

Because of the power struggle within Hamas, the Hamas leadership in Gaza informed Saleh Aruri that they could not integrate him into the Hamas interior leadership based in Gaza, and that he had to make his way through the West Bank, where he belonged. He was born in Arura, near Ramallah.

Aruri hoped to take his place in the general elections that Abu Mazen announced six months ago, but after Abu Mazen withdrew the election, Aruri decided to return to terrorist activity from Hamas cells in the West Bank. This time, Aruri has the support of Gaza, after Gaza's leader, Yahya Sinwar, informed Egypt that he no longer sees himself as only the leader of Gaza, but the leader of all Palestinians. In this respect, Sinwar, kind of broadcasting to Aruri, that even after you take over the West Bank, you will act on my behalf, and what further strengthens Sinwar's support for Aruri is the problems in his relations with Egypt. The Egyptians did not like to hear from him that his pretensions are also about the West Bank, and the discovery of Hamas' arsenal in the Burj-Shimali refugee camp in Lebanon revealed Hamas' intentions to take over the camps in Lebanon as well.

Despite Prime Minister Bennett's green light for Gantz, Mahmud Abbas faces challenges. First of all, it should be noted that at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the PA, Egypt and Jordan, the person who served as foreign minister was Hussein al-Sheikh, one of Israel's closest personnel in the Palestinian Authority, and not Riyad al-Maliki, who sees his main role in a diplomatic warfare against Israel. He did not cross Red lines, but certainly touched them, like the special relationship with Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela and the man of Iran in South America, and now the construction of special relations with Algeria, the country closest to Iran in North Africa.

It was reported that Gantz demanded that the PA reject the claims against war criminals at The Hague, which, according to the Palestinian criterion Gantz is a war criminal. Mahmud Abbas cannot guarantee it to him, because the claim in The Hague is the PA's flagship in the competition with Hamas who is more harmful to Israel, but in Cairo Mahmud Abbas has signaled that Maliki's expulsion is not out of the question, and once Hussein al-Sheikh takes his place—then Maliki's entire Hague project will go down the drain.

What Gantz does not know is that the new president of the Tribunal in The Hague, Britain's Karim Khan, has already told Malki that while the Palestinian cases against Israel have not been removed from the agenda, there are more pressing issues that come first.

Since the new government in Israel has decided to put aside the negotiations with the Palestinians, the main channel of progress is in economic affairs, and here there is a problem with Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayya, who aims politically to sever economic ties with Israel and connect the Palestinian economy with Jordan.
The donor countries suspend economic assistance to the PA because of a series of issues, including the ouster of Shtayya, but Fatah strongly opposes this, hence Mahmud Abbas's need to ask Israel for financial assistance, and the problem here is that Israel offsets the payments to the families of prisoners and shaheeds. What is at stake is the return of the money offset by other names. Another issue on the agenda is expanding PA activity to area C and Gantz can permit it in the margins of Trump plan that has been accepted by Israel.

On the security issue, the IDF is already doing what the Palestinian Authority is wary of doing– entering the refugee camps, which requires the tightening of security cooperation, and a source in the Palestinian Security confirmed to me that the level of cooperation between Palestinian security and Israel is unprecedented.