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Israel Finance Minister Makes Rare Confidence-Boosting Visit To Palestinians

Israel’s finance minister has met the Palestinian prime minister, Israeli officials said on Thursday, in a rare visit by an Israeli cabinet member to the occupied West Bank as part of a U.S. peace push.

Israel’s security cabinet agreed just before U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank May 22-23 on a series of measures aimed at building confidence in relations with the Palestinians.

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads a center-right party in Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, went to Ramallah late on Wednesday to present the proposals to Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, the officials said.

The measures include opening the Allenby Bridge border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan 24 hours a day, an increased number of building permits for Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank, and further development of industrial zones near the West Bank cities of Jenin and Hebron.

Under interim peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians, Area C – which comprises 60 percent of the occupied West Bank – is territory in which Israel maintains full security and civil control.—Reuters

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