Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on Sunday night to discuss security, civilian and economic issues.

Abbas was told by Gantz that Israel would seek to strengthen the Palestinian economy.

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US President Joe Biden wants both sides to repair relations that have deteriorated since the last round of direct peace talks collapsed in 2014.

At the White House on Friday, he urged Israel's new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to take "steps to improve the lives of Palestinians and support greater economic opportunities for them".

He also reaffirmed his view that a negotiated two-state solution was the only viable path to achieving a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An Israeli government source stressed that Sunday's meeting was approved by Mr Bennett, and that Mr Gantz had not discussed peace talks with Mr Abbas.

"There is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians, nor will there be one," the source told the BBC.

On Monday afternoon Mr Gantz told Israeli media that he had offered the Palestinian Authority a $155m (£113m) loan as an advance on tax revenue collected by Israel on its behalf.

He also said Israel would recognise the status of thousands of Palestinians currently living in the West Bank without proper documentation; grant Israeli work permits to an additional 16,000 Palestinians; and issue 1,000 building permits for Palestinians in parts of the West Bank under full Israeli control.

Senior Palestinian official Hassan al-Sheikh said Sunday's discussions covered "all aspects" of Palestinian-Israeli relations.

The militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and fought an 11-day conflict with Israeli forces in May, warned that the meeting "deepens Palestinian political division".

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