Palestinians ‘encouraged’ by Netanyahu rival Gantz’s settlement remarks – spokesman

Palestinian president’s spokesman gave a cautious welcome on Wednesday to remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest election rival suggesting openness to a future removal of settlements from the occupied West Bank. “It’s encouraging, if he succeeds and he sticks to this opinion,” Nabil Abu Rdeineh told Reuters. Ex-general Benny Gantz, discussing accommodation with the Palestinians, told an Israeli newspaper he opposed dominating another people and suggested Israel might repeat its 2005 removal of Gaza settlers. The Gaza pullout was a boost for the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which has since fought three wars with Israel. Netanyahu’s Likud party accused Gantz of planning to form a “leftist government” with the help of Israeli Arab parties that have pro-Palestinian sympathies.