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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's meeting with the Minister of Defense Benny Gantz

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Palestine President Abbas faces criticism after meeting Gantz

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Gaza: After Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz had a meeting on Sunday which was a first-of-its-kind since 2010, leaders of the Palestinian factions, including the Islamic Hamas Movement, have slammed the meeting.

Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Hazem Qassem said that the Sunday night meeting "would deepen the Palestinian internal division," adding "it will encourage some parties in the region to normalise ties with Israel",

Spokesman of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Tareq Silmi said in a statement that the group rejects the meeting, adding that "it is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people who suffer and struggle against the occupation".

Meanwhile, the Palestinian left-wing factions, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), slammed the meeting, calling on Abbas that he should resolve the internal split and regain unity "instead of meeting Israelis".

On Sunday night, Abbas and Gantz met in the West Bank city of Ramallah and discussed ways to improve the economic situation of the Palestinian territories, according to Palestinian official and Israeli media reports.

It was the first meeting held between Abbas and a senior Israeli government official since ties between the two sides had been severed in 2014 due to the continued settlement expansion and the measures imposed by the Jewish state in East Jerusalem.

Later on Monday, according to an AP report, Israel's defense minister has also announced a series of gestures aimed at strengthening the Palestinian Authority, including plans to loan USD150 million to the cash-strapped autonomy government in the occupied West Bank.The money is to be repaid with tax funds that Israel normally collects for the Palestinians.

According to the report, Israel will also authorize work permits for an additional 15,000 Palestinian laborers and resolve the residency status for a number of people living in the occupied West Bank These include Palestinians originally from Gaza and foreign spouses of local Palestinians

The stepped-up contacts and Israeli gestures mark a shift in direction after the complete breakdown of communication between Abbas and Israeli leaders in recent years. Israel's new government has said it is interested in bolstering Abbas in his rivalry against Gaza's ruling Hamas militant group.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has been pushing the two sides to go for trust-building and resume contacts in a bid to resume the peace talks.

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TAGS:Mahmoud Abbas Benny Gantz Israel deal Palastine Updates 
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