The Palestinian leadership and Israel used US President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East as an opportunity for contacts at the highest level after years of radio silence. As the Israeli government announced, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Friday. Abbas received Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Ramallah on Thursday evening.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan welcomed the exchange between Lapid and Abbas. It was the first phone call between an Israeli head of government and the Palestinian President in five years. US President Biden is very much looking forward to meeting the two politicians next week, Sullivan added on Twitter. Biden wants to visit Israel and the occupied West Bank from July 13-15.
The Middle East peace talks reached a deadlock in 2014. Since then, relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have continued to deteriorate.
Lapid and Abbas spoke on Friday about “the continuation of cooperation” and the need to “ensure calm,” according to Lapid’s office. During a visit to Paris, Lapid did not rule out meeting Abbas in person, but said it was “not a priority”.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense described the return visit by department head Gantz to Ramallah six months after Abbas’ visit to Israel as “positive. On Thursday, the two politicians “discussed civilian and military coordination in light of Joe Biden’s upcoming visit, as well as security and civilian challenges in the region.” “They have agreed to continue their security coordination and avoid activities that could cause instability,” it said.