Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the West Bank. Sunday night’s meeting, the first high-level meeting between an Israeli and Palestinian official in more than five years, comes two days after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s meeting in Washington with US President Joe Biden.
“This evening I met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to discuss security-policy, civilian and economic issues. I told Chairman Abbas that Israel seeks to take measures that will strengthen the PA’s economy,” Gantz tweeted late Sunday night.
“We also discussed shaping the security and economic situations in the West Bank and in Gaza. We agreed to continue communicating further on the issues that were raised during the meeting,” he also wrote.
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Bennett approved the meeting in advance, Israeli media is reporting, citing unnamed officials in the Prime Minister’s Office. The same officials also said that the meeting was for security purposes and does not represent the start of peace negotiations.
During two rounds of meetings on Sunday night, Gantz and Abbas met together with Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Ghasan Alyan; Palestinian Authority Minister Hussein al-Sheikh; and the head of the Palestinian Intelligence Service, Majid Faraj. Abbas and Gantz then met privately.