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Israel-Palestine: Abbas receives Israeli delegation in Ramallah

President Mahmoud Abbas receives several Israeli officials to discuss possible diplomatic efforts in second meeting between the two sides in a month

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas met an Israeli government delegation in Ramallah on Sunday evening, the second meeting between the two sides in a month, according to sources on both sides.

Abbas received Israel's Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Freij and deputy Michal Rozin, all from the left-wing Meretz party, part of the ruling coalition.

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"The president underlined the importance of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving a just and global peace conforming to international resolutions," official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Abbas also stressed the need to put an end to Israel's settlements, and to end the forced expulsion of Palestinian families from different parts of occupied East Jerusalem, the report said.

The Meretz members reiterated their support for a two-state solution to the conflict, for an independent Palestinian state and the need to build trust between the two sides.

"We have a common mission," Horowitz wrote later on Twitter. "To maintain the hope of a peace founded on the two-state solution." The tweet included a photo of him standing with Abbas.

Text reads: Chairman of Meretz Minister @NitzanHorowitz, Minister @EsawiFr and chairman of the Meretz MK faction @Michal_Rozin tonight in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

No ongoing 'peace process'

Meretz leader Horowitz has been harshly criticised by the right in Israel for his meetings with Abbas.

In late August, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz visited the Palestinian Authority's headquarters for talks with Abbas, the first such official meeting at this level in several years.

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But after those talks, Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that there was no peace process ongoing with the Palestinians, "and there won't be one".

Sunday's meeting happened as leaders of the Hamas movement, which governs the Gaza Strip, held talks in the Egyptian capital Cairo over a possible exchange of prisoners with Israel.

Addressing the UN General Assembly last month, Abbas on 24 September gave Israel one year to withdraw from occupied territory, failing which he would no longer recognise Israel based on 1967 borders.

Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 and considers all of the city as its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a state they seek to establish in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

While some Palestinians and Israelis support the idea of a single binational state, most have very different ideas of what that entity would look like and how it would be governed.

Bennett, who presides over a fragile coalition government, has ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state and said his administration would continue expanding existing illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.