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Palestinian president hosted Israeli cabinet minister for overnight meeting, in further sign of slow improvement in relations between the parties

RAMALLAH, West Bank – The Palestinian president hosted an Israeli cabinet minister for an overnight meeting on Sunday, in a further sign of slow improvement in relations between the parties.

Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz has become the second senior official to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas since the new Israeli government took office in June. Defense Minister Benny Gantz also met Abbas at his West Bank headquarters in August.

Israel’s new government is made up of eight parties spanning the Israeli political spectrum, from hard-line far-right supporters who oppose a Palestinian state to conciliatory parties who support a two-state solution. Horowitz, who has been joined by other members of his Meretz party including Arab Cabinet Minister Esawi Frej, leads the coalition’s most conciliatory faction.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett comes from a small, hard-line religious party, and he ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state under his watch. But he called for reducing friction, mainly by taking measures to stimulate the Palestinian economy.

According to the official Wafa news agency, Abbas “stressed the importance of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving a just and comprehensive peace.” Abbas’s government seeks to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the Middle East War in 1967.

Horowitz posted a photo of himself and Abbas on Twitter. “We have a common mission: to preserve the hope of peace, on the basis of a two-state solution,” he said.

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ABC News

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