Palestinian President Holds Rare Talk With Israeli Defence Minister

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has held the first official meeting with a senior Israeli minister in more than a decade.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz travelled to Ramallah in the occupied territory of the West Bank on August 29th to discuss security, civilian issues, and the economy. Gantz told Abbas that Israel would seek to strengthen the Palestinian economy, reportedly offering the Palestinian Authority a £113m loan as an advance of tax revenue which is collected by Israel on her behalf.

Gantz told Israeli media that Israel would recognise thousands of Palestinians currently living in the occupied West Bank without documentation, grant a further 16,000 Israeli work permits to Palestinians, and issue 1,000 building permits to Palestinians in areas of the West Bank that are under full Israeli control.

An Israeli government source said the meeting was approved by the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and that no discussion of peace had taken place, telling the BBC “there is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians, nor will there be one.”

The militant group Hamas, who operate in the Gaza strip and engaged in an 11-day conflict with Israeli forces in May, have warned that the meeting “deepens Palestinian political division.”

The meeting comes two days after American President Joe Biden urged Israel’s Prime Minister Bennet to take measures towards improving the lives of Palestinians during a meeting at the White House.

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Aislinn Wright

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September 2021
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