Minister of Defense Benny Gantz met Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in Ramallah last night. The two men discussed security, diplomatic and economic issues.
A Ministry of Defense announcement said that Gantz told Abbas that Israel was prepared to take steps to strengthen the economy in the Palestinian Authority. He and Abbas also discussed the situation in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, and ideas on how to deal with the problem of payment of salaries of government workers there, which has been the main cause of the conflict on that front in the past few days.
Another issue discussed was the law whereby Israel offsets from taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority payments that the Authority makes to families of terrorists.
On the agenda was a loan by Israel to the Palestinian Authority to cover its budget deficit. Gantz and Abbas agreed to stay in touch on the matters raised during the meeting.
Coordinator of the IDF's activities in the territories Brigadier General Ghassan Alian, Minister for Civilian Affairs in the Palestinian Authority Hussein al-Sheikh, and Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Services chief Majed Faraj, who is considered a serious candidate to succeed Abbas, also participated in the meeting, at the end of which Gantz and Abbas held discussions in private without aides.
This was the first official meeting between a senior Israeli government minster and Mahmoud Abbas since 2010, although ministers from the two sides have held meetings in the interval.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was kept informed of the meeting, which is part of a policy of renewed dialogue with the Palestinian Authority at all levels. Bennett has declared that the contacts are solely aimed at advancing economic and civil matters. Nevertheless, other members of the government coalition want to open political negotiations in the near future.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 30, 2021
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