| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Israeli defense minister meets with Palestinian president

In a first such trip for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in more than a decade, Abbas met Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz at his home in Israel. the meeting’s aim was to discuss ways to strengthen economic and security ties, said the Israeli Minister.
Palestinian official Hussein Al-Sheikh said the two discussed the “importance of creating a political horizon,” for the solution of the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The last round of peace talks collapsed in 2014.
“We discussed the implementation of economic and civilian measures, and emphasized the importance of deepening security coordination and preventing terror and violence — for the well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians,” Gantz said on Twitter.
Their talks mark the highest-level public meetings between Abbas and an Israeli minister since Israel’s new government was formed in June.
But few see prospects for a resumption of peace talks with Israel’s coalition government headed by hawkish Prime Minister Naftali Bennett who opposes Palestinian statehood.
The Palestinians seek an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza with a capital in east Jerusalem. Israel captured those territories in the 1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinians have limited self-rule in the West Bank. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move unrecognized internationally and in 2005 pulled out of Gaza, which is now controlled by Islamist armed group Hamas.
Hamas, which has fought several wars with Israel, condemned the Abbas-Gantz talks.