In a diplomatic gesture days before U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to the region, Palestinian and Israeli leaders spoke by phone on Friday, according to official statements, though it seemed unlikely that the long-stalled peace talks would be restarted.
Following a meeting between Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday in the occupied West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog each had a separate phone conversation with Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.
Lapid, who was appointed caretaker prime minister last week ahead of a snap election on November 1, claimed that he and Abbas spoke in the first such call between an Israeli prime minister and a Palestinian leader in years. The two men reportedly discussed ‘continued cooperation and the need to ensure quiet and calm.’
According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Abbas met with Gantz at his presidential residence in Ramallah. According to Wafa, Abbas stressed ‘the importance of creating a political horizon’ to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and maintain peace before Biden’s visit.
The two ‘decided to maintain close security coordination and to avoid measures that would generate instability,’ Gantz wrote on Twitter.
Between July 13 and 16, Biden will be in the Middle East.
2014 saw the breakdown of U.S.-mediated peace negotiations aiming at creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, which Israel took in the Middle East conflict of 1967.
Following the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11 during an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, tensions between the parties have heightened.