Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas Holds Rare Talks with Israeli Minister

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas held a rare high-level meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Aug. 29 evening to discuss measures in strengthening the Palestinian economy.

The meeting held in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank was reportedly the first direct talks between the 86-year-old Palestinian leader and an Israeli minister in nearly a decade.

Gantz on Twitter said that he met with Abbas “to discuss security, policy, civilian and economic issues” and that “Israel seeks to take measures that will strengthen” the Palestinian economy.

“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,” Gantz added.

On Aug. 30, Gantz announced that he had offered Palestinian government a $155 million loan, which will be repaid with tax funds collected by Israel.

“As the Palestinian Authority gets stronger, Hamas gets weaker, and so long as it has greater governance, we will have more security and we will have to act less,” Gantz said.

Gantz also said that Israel would recognize the residency rights of thousands of Palestinians currently living in the West Bank without legal status, as well as permit 16,000 Palestinians to work in Israel.

However, according to BBC News, a source close to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Aug. 30 that Gantz did not discuss peace talks with Abbas.

“There is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians, nor will there be one,” the anonymous source told BBC News.

The meeting came a day after Bennett met with United States President Joe Biden who “underscored the importance of steps to improve the lives of Palestinians and support greater economic opportunities for them,” according to a statement from the White House.

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