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Palestine-Israel meet ahead of Biden visit

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz have met in the occupied West Bank to discuss security co-ordination ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region.

The peace process between the two states collapsed more than a decade ago and high-level meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders are rare.

When they do occur, they tend to focus on day-to-day economic and security co-ordination.

An Israeli statement said the meeting in Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered, was conducted in “positive terms”.

It said the two sides agreed to “continue security co-ordination and to avoid activities that may cause instability”.

Gantz wished Abbas and the Palestinian people a happy Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday beginning this weekend, the statement said.

Abbas “stressed the importance of creating a political horizon, respecting the signed agreements and stopping the actions and measures that lead to the deterioration of the situation”, Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior aide to the president, tweeted.

The Palestinian leader also stressed the importance of a “calm atmosphere before President Biden’s visit, which we welcome”, the tweet said.

Gantz met with Abbas a couple of times last year and announced measures to improve economic conditions in the occupied West Bank.

He remains defence minister in a caretaker government ahead of elections planned for November 1.

Abbas leads the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank.

Polls suggest nearly 80 per cent of Palestinians want him to resign, in part because of his close co-operation with Israel.

Last year he called off the first Palestinian elections in 15 years.

President Biden is expected to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders next week.

The Palestinians seek a state in the occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 war.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognised internationally and views the entire city as its capital.

It withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but imposed a crippling blockade when the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power from Abbas’ forces two years later, limiting his authority to parts of the West Bank.

Australian Associated Press

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Article source: Canberra Times

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000