Israeli minister in rare meeting with Palestinian PM
Israel's finance minister has met the Palestinian premier to discuss measures aimed at improving the Palestinian economy in an "extremely rare" meeting in Ramallah, officials said on Thursday.
Israel had announced the measures ahead of US President Donald Trump's May 22 visit, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon presented them to Rami Hamdallah in the Palestinian political capital on Wednesday.
While Kahlon regularly meets Palestinian ministers, it was the first time he had met Hamdallah and the first time such a meeting was in Ramallah.
An Israeli official told AFP that no Israeli member of the internal security cabinet had met a Palestinian official in a West Bank city since 2000, and called the meeting "extremely rare".
Also present were Major General Yoav Mordechai, head of COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry agency responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, and Palestinian civilian affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh.
The two sides agreed to broaden the Palestinian prerogative in parts of Area C, the bulk of the West Bank which is under Israeli security and civilian control, a Palestinian official said.
Also discussed was enlarging a Palestinian industrial zone on the edge of the southern West Bank and increasing working hours at West Bank crossings into Israel and the main Jordan River bridge from the Palestinian territory to the neighbouring kingdom, officials on both sides said.
Israel approved the overtures at Trump's request, stressing at the time that none of the gestures would affect Israeli interests.
Trump spent two days in Israel and the Palestinian territories on his first foreign trip in an aim to resolve the conflict between the sides, urging them to compromise for peace but giving no specifics.
© 2017 AFP