Bennett meets Sisi on first Egypt visit by Israeli PM in decade
Cairo: Israel’s Naftali Bennett met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday, on the first visit to the North African country by a prime minister of the Jewish state in over a decade.
Sisi was hosting Bennett in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss “efforts to revive the peace process” between the Israelis and Palestinians, presidential spokesman Bassam Radi.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, in 1979 became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, after decades of enmity.
In May, it played a key role in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip, after 11 days of deadly fighting.
Egypt regularly receives leaders of Hamas as well as of its political rival the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmud Abbas, while maintaining strong diplomatic, security and economic ties with Israel.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday proposed improving living conditions in Gaza and building new infrastructure in exchange for calm from Hamas, aiming to solve the “never-ending rounds of violence”.
But “it won’t happen without the support and involvement of our Egyptian partners and without their ability to talk to everyone involved”, he said.
Bennett’s visit comes about 10 days after Abbas was in Cairo for talks with Sisi.
Monday’s talks mark “an important step in light of the growing security and economic relations between the two countries, and their mutual concern over the situation in Gaza”, Cairo-based analyst Nael Shama told AFP.
It also fits with “Egypt’s plans to revive the political talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority”, he added.
The last meeting between an Egyptian president and an Israeli premier dates back to January 2011 when Hosni Mubarak received Benjamin Netanyahu, weeks before Mubarak was toppled in a popular revolution.
In the political turbulence that followed, relations between the two countries deteriorated as protests were staged outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo in 2011. – AFP