Palestinian president hosts Israeli minister in West Bank

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is the second top Israeli official to meet Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hosted an Israeli Cabinet minister for a late-night meeting on Sunday, in a new sign of slowly improving ties between the sides.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz became the second top official to meet Mr Abbas since the new Israeli government took office in June.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz met Mr Abbas at his West Bank headquarters in August.

The Israeli government consists of eight parties spanning the political spectrum, from far-right hardliners who oppose a Palestinian state to those who support a two-state solution.

Mr Horowitz, who was joined by other members of his Meretz party, including Arab Cabinet minister Esawi Frej, leads the most dovish faction in the coalition.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett comes from a small, hardline religious party, and he has ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state during his term.

But Mr Bennett has called for reducing friction, mainly by taking steps to boost the Palestinian economy.

Mr Abbas “stressed the importance of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving a just and comprehensive peace", the state-run Wafa news agency reported.

His government seeks the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Mr Horowitz posted a picture of himself and Mr Abbas on Twitter.

“We have a shared mission: to preserve the hope for peace on the basis of a two-state solution,” he said.

Updated: October 3rd 2021, 10:20 PM
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