Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas (85) for the first time in 10 years. The two leaders met in the occupied West Bank in the first high-level meeting.
Officials said that the West Bank city of Ramallah for "security, civilian, and economic discussions." Israel's defence ministry said that the meeting was held to "discuss security policy, civilian and economic issues." The leaders have agreed to communicate further, reported Al Jazeera.
Gantz is the head of a centrist party in Israel's governing coalition. GhasanAlyan (the head of the Israeli military branch responsible for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories), Hussein al-Sheikh (senior PA official), and Majid Faraj (Palestinian intelligence chief) were also part of the meeting.
Gantz told Abbas that Israel seeks to take measures that will strengthen Palestine's economy.
An anonymous Palestinian official told Al Jazeera that Gantz and Abbas discussed possible steps towards improving relations. The meeting included talks over Palestinian demands for a halt in Israeli military operations in the occupied West Bank. He also brought up allowing the unification of families with relatives inside Israel and allowing more Palestinian workers into Israel.
While some think that the talks marked a shift in engagement, reviving the peace process is still "very doubtful". New Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett is a nationalist and has actively declared his opposition to a Palestinian state.
Israeli media outlets quoted "a source close to the prime minister" saying there is no diplomatic process with Palestinians and nor will there be one. MossiRaz, a legislator from the left-wing Meretz party, said that the dismissal of prospects of a peace talk was "outrageous".
Top Israeli officials have indicated a desire to boost the PA amid concern over a new conflict with Hamas.
The PA was widely viewed as corrupt in a recent poll in June. The results showed that the support for Abbas has decreased. He took power in 2005 for a four-year term but has remained in power. Many called the PA authoritarian and criticised the close "security coordination" with Israel.
A recent White House statement issued after the visit of the Israeli president said that Joe Biden reiterated his support for a two-state solution and "underscored the importance of steps to improve the lives of Palestinians".
Former US President Donald Trump backed the pro-Israeli policies of the government led by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmud Abbas had halted contacts with both Israel and the US from 2009 to 2021.