If there is ever to be an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Arab states need to persuade the Israeli public that a deal that will require concessions is worth their while, Egyptian President Abd al-Fatah el-Sisi said in an interview. Speaking to the London-based Arabic language a-Sharq al-Awsat, Sisi said that the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which will soon celebrate its 40th year, “is the best proof of this.”
While governments might be willing to make a deal, said el-Sisi, it’s unlikely that they will unless the people agree that a deal should be made – and in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that will require effort on the part of Arab countries to convince Israelis it is worth the risk to give up land in Yehudah and Shomron and allow a Palestinian state to be established. Israelis were concerned over the surrender of Sinai, but the benefits that accrued to both sides have proven that Israel and Egypt made the right choice, he added.
While negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have seemed endless, the “new situation in the Gulf states” should be an impetus for a renewal of negotiations. With the United States becoming more active in the region, “we believe it is the chief power that can provide forward momentum for a peace process. Our brothers in the Gulf states understand this,” he added, hinting at the increased tension between the Sunni Gulf bloc, led by Saudi Arabia, and the Shiite-led opposition in Iran.
El-Sisi also related to the situation on Israel’s northern border. When asked if he believed that the encroachment of Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border would lead to war, el-Sisi said, “I hope that does not happen. The region is already tense as it is. Experience shows that war does not solve problems and the great risks associated with them (sic) often reveal themselves after the war is over.”