Abbas, Israel’s Gantz hold new high-level talks, urged by US

Abbas, Israel’s Gantz hold new high-level talks, urged by US

Jerusalem: Israel’s defence minister has held talks with the Palestinian president in the occupied West Bank, the first high-level meeting between the two sides in years, officials said.
Sunday’s meeting between Benny Gantz and Mahmoud Abbas signalled a possible shift of direction after the near-complete breakdown of communication between Abbas and Israeli leaders in recent years.
It came two days after President Joe Biden urged Israel’s new prime minister during a White House meeting to take steps toward improving the lives of Palestinians.
Gantz’s office said he told Abbas that Israel will take new measures to strengthen the Palestinian economy.
It said they also discussed security issues and agreed to remain in touch. It was believed to be the highest level public meeting between the sides since 2014.
A Palestinian official said Gantz and Abbas discussed possible steps toward improving the atmosphere.
He said this included Palestinian demands for a halt in Israeli military operations in Palestinian areas of the occupied West Bank, allowing unification of families with relatives inside Israel and allowing more Palestinian workers into Israel.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the late-night meeting.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is a hard-liner who opposes Palestinian independence, as do key partners in his diverse, ruling coalition. But Bennett has said he supports building up the Palestinian economy and expanding autonomy for Palestinians. —PTI

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