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 years.
“The two spoke with a positive atmosphere and discussed the need to advance confidence-building measures between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which will assist 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 with Abbas and conveyed his blessings for the Muslim festival which began Monday, Herzog’s office said.
The two also spoke last week when Abbas called Herzog to congratulate him on becoming president.
At the time, Herzog thanked Abbas and expressed his wish to maintain regular contact between them to “advance the relations and the hope for peace between the two neighboring nations.”
The phone calls came in a relatively tense time, with the Palestinians angry at the entry of 1,700 Jews to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount for Tisha B’Av Sunday, as well as at recent footage of Jews praying in the flashpoint compound in apparent violation of a long-standing status quo.
It also came amid widespread Palestinian protests in the West Bank against Abbas’s continued rule over the death of a journalist critical of Ramallah at the hands of PA police.