Egypt to Offer to Host Peace Conference at Cairo Meeting

CAIRO (REUTERS/Hamodia) -
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday for talks on Israeli-Palestinian relations and bilateral issues, Egypt’s presidency said, in the first official trip by an Israeli head of government to Egypt for a decade.

Sissi was expected to offer to host an international peace conference during the meeting, according to Al-Arabiya, though neither side has yet confirmed the report.

Bennett was invited to visit by Sisi last month and the two were due to meet in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

The discussions were expected to address “ways and efforts to revive the peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians, Egypt’s presidency said in a statement, as well as bilateral and regional matters.

One focus of Monday’s talks will be the situation in the Gaza Strip, where Egypt helped broker a ceasefire after 11 days of conflict in May between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that controls the enclave, diplomatic and security sources said.

An uptick in cross-border violence since late August has tested the fragile truce. Over the past week, Palestinian terrorists have fired rockets into Israel for three nights in a row, drawing Israeli air strikes.

Bennett and Sisi were also expected to discuss regional issues, including Iran’s influence in the Middle East and the crisis in Lebanon, diplomats said.

The trip appeared to give transport links between the two countries a boost.

The Taba crossing between Israel and Sinai, an entry point for Israeli tourists, would become fully operational from Monday as restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic were lifted, Israel’s transport ministry said.

From October, Egyptair would begin operating several flights a week between Cairo and Tel Aviv, sources at the Egyptian national carrier said.

The last official visit by an Israeli prime minister to Egypt was when Binyamin Netanyahu met former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011 in Sharm el-Sheikh, just before the uprising that toppled Mubarak.