One night last month, a top Israeli minister traveled the winding roads of the occupied West Bank to meet Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.
The meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Mr. Abbas at the octogenarian Palestinian leader’s private residence — less than a 10-minute drive from the Israeli military’s regional headquarters — lasted only about 90 minutes, but it immediately made waves in Israel and the West Bank.
It was the first time in more than seven years that a senior Israeli minister was known to have met with Mr. Abbas. Israel’s previous government, led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had denigrated Mr. Abbas as an intransigent inciter of violence and never met with him.
The August meeting is the most prominent piece of evidence of a new, more cooperative approach to dealing with the Palestinian Authority, which senior members of Israel’s new government see as a bulwark against the Islamist militant group Hamas.