RAMALLAH (West Bank) -- The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abdulbas and the Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met in the occupied West Bank on Thursday to discuss security coordination ahead U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to the region next Wednesday.
More than a decade ago, the peace process was dissolved. Meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders at high levels are rare. They tend to be focused on security and economic coordination.
A statement from Israel stated that the meeting in Ramallah where the Palestinian Authority is located was held in "positive terms." The statement also said that the two sides had agreed to "continue security coordination" and avoid any activities that could cause instability.
The statement stated that Gantz wished Abbas, and all Palestinians, a happy Eid al-Adha. This is a Muslim holiday that begins this weekend.
Hussein al Sheikh, a senior aide to Abbas, tweeted that Abbas had "emphasized the importance of creating an political horizon and respecting the signed accords and stopping the actions or measures that lead the deterioration in the situation."
Abbas also stressed that it was important to have a calm atmosphere before President Biden's visit. This is something we welcome, the tweet stated.
Gantz met Abbas several times last year, and together they announced measures to improve the economic situation in the occupied West Bank. In a temporary government, he is still the defense minister and will continue to be so until elections are held in Nov. 1.
The Palestinian Authority is Abbas's organization. It administers a portion of the occupied West Bank. Nearly 80% of Palestinians support Abbas' resignation, partly due to his close cooperation with Israel. He called off the first Palestinian election in 15 years last year.
Biden will meet next week with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The Palestinians want a state in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel took in 1967 war.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem in an international move that was not recognized. It considers the whole city its capital. It retreated soldiers and settlers to Gaza in 2005, but then imposed a severe blockade two years later when Hamas, an Islamic militant group, took power from Abbas' forces. This limited Abbas' authority to certain parts of the West Bank.