Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz held a rare meeting in the occupied West Bank in an effort to calm tensions and coordinate on security days before US President Joe Biden’s first visit to the region, Reuters reports.
Gantz said on Twitter that Thursday’s meeting in Ramallah “was conducted in positive terms” and that the two discussed “civilian and security challenges” in the region.
“We agreed to maintain close security coordination and to avoid actions that may cause instability,” Gantz said.
Abbas “stressed the importance of creating a political horizon, respecting signed agreements and stopping actions and measures that lead to the deterioration of the situation,” Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official, said in a tweet.
Abbas also stressed the importance of having a “calm atmosphere before President Biden’s visit, which we welcome.”
Mr President Abbas also stressed on the importance of preparing the calm atmosphere before President Biden's visit, which we welcome.
— حسين الشيخ Hussein AlSheikh (@HusseinSheikhpl) July 7, 2022
It was the third known meeting between Abbas and Gantz since August last year, and the first since Yair Lapid took over as caretaker prime minister in Israel last week ahead of elections on 1 November.
Tensions between the occupation state of Israel and the Palestinians grew more intense following the 11 May killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
Rights groups and media organisations have said evidence from the scene proves Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier. A claim Israel denies. The US State Department said on Monday that Abu Akleh was likely killed by gunfire from Israeli positions but it was probably unintentional.
The Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank. U.S.-brokered talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in Israeli-occupied territory collapsed in 2014 and show no sign of revival.