A meeting Sunday night between Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, IDF General Yoav Mordechai and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was a sign of “important progress last night between Israeli and Palestinian sides,” U.S. Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt said Monday. The meeting resulted in “meaningful steps forward on key economic issues – revenues, customs, and investment – that help support the search for peace,” Greenblatt wrote in a social media post.
The details of the meeting between the three were not revealed, but Israeli officials said that they covered economic cooperation between Israel and the PA. A source in Kahlon’s office told Israel Radio that the improvement of economic cooperation could entail increasing the number of PA workers who receive work permits for jobs in Israel, among other things. The talks were the result of commitments by both sides to enhance economic cooperation made during the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to Israel earlier this year, the source said.
The meeting, the second between Kahlon and Hamdallah, took place Sunday night despite a government declaration several weeks ago that it was suspending all cooperation with the PA as the result of the decision to integrate Hamas into the PA government, which Hamas and Fatah have been working to implement. In an official statement, the Cabinet had said that “as in the past, we continue to hold the position that the government of Israel will not conduct negotiations with a Palestinian government that depends on the inclusion of a terrorist group that seeks the destruction of Israel.”
Greenblatt, along with Jared Kushner, who is also working with the administration to resolve the Middle East conflict, met in Saudi Arabia Sunday night with officials, after visiting Cairo, Amman, Yerushalayim and Ramallah. A White House spokesperson said Sunday night that the U.S. remained committed to bring Israel and the PA to the negotiation table, but that it was up to both parties to make a deal.