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July 8, 2022 4:24 pm

Lapid, Herzog Speak With PA’s Abbas Before Biden Visit

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a ceremony for Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed while covering an IDF raid, in Ramallah in the West Bank, May 12, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

Israeli and Palestinian leaders held rare calls on Friday, official statements said, in a diplomatic overture days before US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog held separate calls with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which followed a meeting between Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the West Bank on Thursday.

In the first such known call between the Palestinian leader and an Israeli prime minister in years, Lapid and Abbas discussed “continued cooperation and the need to ensure quiet and calm”, according to Lapid, who last week became caretaker premier ahead of a Nov. 1 snap election.

Abbas received Gantz at his presidential headquarters in Ramallah, according to official Palestinian news agency Wafa, which said Abbas emphasized “the importance of creating a political horizon,” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and maintaining calm ahead of Biden’s visit.

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Gantz said on Twitter that the two “agreed to maintain close security coordination and to avoid actions that would cause instability.”

Biden is visiting the Middle East on July 13-16.

US-brokered peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem collapsed in 2014 with no sign of renewal.

In his first Middle East trip as president, Biden is expected to meet separately with Palestinian and Israeli leaders before heading to Saudi Arabia.

Washington hopes more regional security cooperation could pave the way for more normalization deals with Israel, which established ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020.

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