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Palestinian President to Meet Israeli Ministers to Discuss Economic Improvements

Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej are set to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday night to discuss ideas to improve the economic situation of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, such as increasing the number of work permits for residents of the Palestinian territories employed in Israel and the number of building permits for Palestinian villages in Area C. Both Israeli ministers are from the left-wing Meretz party, and some observers have asked whether the meeting will increase tensions between left and right within the Israeli cabinet. On the other hand, the meeting may signal an acceptance of the “shrinking the conflict” approach championed by Israeli philosopher and author Micah Goodman, who has written that while a final status peace agreement may not be possible in the near future, both sides would be better off cooperating to shrink the conflict by implementing a plan to “boost Palestinian autonomy, granting greater independence without forcing them to give up on their demand for the return of refugees, and without forcing them to recognize Israel.” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has shown interest in this approach in the past, so the meeting may well be with his tacit approval. And while Palestinians have previously rejected an approach that asked them to shelve their long-term political aspirations in favor of more immediate economic gains, in this case senior Palestinian officials reportedly initiated the meeting.