Diplomatic Sources: Netanyahu Preparing for an Official Visit to Egypt

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in New York City, in 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to travel to Egypt in the coming weeks and will meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Ma’ariv reported Monday, quoting diplomatic sources.

Officials from both countries are currently in talks ahead of Netanyahu’s official visit to Cairo. A bilateral meeting is planned between the economic delegations of Israel and Egypt, where joint economic projects and the promotion of business relations between the two countries will be discussed.

Netanyahu has a history of meetings with Egyptian leaders. In 2010 he met then-President Hosni Mubarak. The two discussed attempts to open direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The visit took place in a tense atmosphere, following the call of then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for a complete disengagement of Israel from the Gaza Strip. Shortly afterwards, Mubarak’s rule was overthrown.

Another visit to Cairo was planned by Netanyahu’s bureau in the winter of 2016, about two years after incumbent President al-Sisi came to power. The visit was canceled by the Egyptians in light of the words of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, according to which Egypt flooded Hamas tunnels at Israel’s request.

In September 2017, Netanyahu and al-Sisi were scheduled for a brief meeting in New York. Only the Egyptian flag was placed behind the leaders. Al-Sisi said at the beginning of the meeting: “Thank you very much for coming to the meeting with the distinguished guests.” A spokesman for the Egyptian president said the meeting dealt with ways to renew the peace process only.

In May 2018, it was reported that Netanyahu and al-Sisi met in Egypt in secret. According to various sources, Netanyahu flew to Egypt with a small number of advisers and security guards, stayed there for several hours and attended a meal breaking the Ramadan fast. This time, according to diplomatic sources, Netanyahu intends to reach Cairo openly, and deal mainly with economic issues.