Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke on the phone Monday evening with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to wish him a happy Eid al-Adha in the first conversation between a high-ranking Israeli minister and the PA leader in four year.
“The two spoke in a positive atmosphere and discussed the need to promote confidence-building measures between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that will help the security and economy of the entire region,” Gantz’s office said.
The last senior government official to speak with Abbas was then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017.
President Isaac Herzog also spoke to Abbas and conveyed his blessings ahead of the Muslim festival that began Monday, Herzog’s office said.
The two also spoke last week when Abbas called Herzog to congratulate him on his nomination as president.
At the time, Herzog thanked Abbas and expressed his desire to maintain regular contact between them to “promote relations and hope for peace between the two neighboring countries”.
The calls came at a relatively tense time, with Palestinians angered over the entry of 1,700 Jews onto Jerusalem’s Temple Mount for Tisha B’Av Sunday, as well as recent footage of Jews praying at the flash point in clear violation of a long — standing status quo.
It also came amid widespread Palestinian protests in the West Bank against Abbas’s ongoing rule over the death of a journalist who criticized Ramallah at the hands of PA police.