Lapid Meets With Egyptian President, Discusses Iran and Gaza

YERUSHALAYIM -
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, at the Al-Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo, Thursday. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met Thursday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, at the beginning of his visit to Egypt.

The two discussed the Iranian threat, and attempts to reach an agreement with Hamas in Gaza.

On Iran, Lapid and Sisi spoke about Tehran’s nuclear program, and the threat to regional stability posed by its support for armed proxy groups, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Lapid also presented his vision for Gaza, which would offer economic incentives in return for an end to Hamas attacks, and discussed the issue of the Israeli civilians and the remains of two Israeli soldiers being held in the Strip.

Sisi hosted Lapid at the Al-Ittihadiya Palace in the Heliopolis neighborhood of Cairo, the official office of Egypt’s president.

Sisi and Lapid also discussed combating terror, and measures taken by Israel to strengthen the Palestinian Authority.

The two also discussed bilateral relations and the desire to expand economic, energy, agricultural, and trade cooperation.

Israel has long been a partner for Egypt in combating terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula, including a local affiliate of the Islamic State. Sinai terrorists have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians, including a series of deadly incidents in 2011-2012.

“Egypt is an especially important strategic partner for Israel,” Lapid said in a statement after the meeting. “My goal is to strengthen our security, diplomatic, and economic ties with Egypt. It is important to continue to work on the peace between the two nations. I thank President Sisi, whose contribution to the region and to the ties between us are of historic proportions, on the hospitality, and on the warm and open meeting.”

After sitting down with Sisi, Lapid held a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The meetings are the latest in a series of high-level contacts between Israel and its southern neighbor.

Lapid was welcomed at the airport by Egypt’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nabil Habashi.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry receives antiques from Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at Tahrir Palace in Cairo, Egypt Thursday. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Lapid presented Sisi with stolen Egyptian artifacts that were smuggled into Israel and were held by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Eli Escozido, director of the IAA, joined Lapid for the visit.

“From a political-security perspective the strengthening of Israel-Egypt relations is a very important interest for the State of Israel,” Lapid’s office said in a statement before the meeting. “The minister’s visit is a direct continuation of the Israeli government’s foreign policy to use common interests as leverage for regional stability.”