Israeli defense chief Benny Gantz, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas hold rare meeting in West Bank

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Aug. 30 (UPI) — The West Bank was the site of a rare meeting on Sunday night between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which occurred hours after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett returned from a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Gantz and Abbas met in Ramallah and was the first face-to-face meeting between Abbas and a high-ranking Israeli official in about a decade.

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Ramallah is the Palestinian Authority’s de facto administrative capital.

“This evening I met with PA [President] Mahmoud Abbas to discuss security-policy, civilian and economic issues,” Gantz tweeted. “I told … Abbas that Israel seeks to take measures that will strengthen the PA’s 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.”

Bennett has long voiced opposition to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but agreed upon his election in June not to annex parts of Judea and Samaria.

Hussein Al Sheikh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, also acknowledged Sunday’s rare meeting.

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“They have discussed the Palestinian-Israelirelations on all aspects,” Al Sheikh told Palestinian news agency WAFA on Monday.

While in Washington, D.C., Bennett said he has no plans to move forward with diplomatic peace talks with the Palestinians, but said he’s interested in advancing fiscal measures to ease economic difficulties.