September 13, (THEWILL) – Prime Minister of Israeli, Naftali Bennett, and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met on Monday in Cairo for talks on Israeli-Palestinian relations and bilateral issues.
Their meeting marked the first official trip by an Israeli head of government to Egypt in a decade.
The last official visit by an Israeli Prime Minister to Egypt was when Benjamin Netanyahu met former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011 in Sharm el-Sheikh, just before the uprising that toppled Mubarak.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014 and analysts say there is little prospect of reviving them.
Bennett, a nationalist atop a cross-partisan coalition, opposes Palestinian statehood.
One focus of Monday’s talks was 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 faction 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 militants have fired rockets into Israel for three nights in a row, drawing Israeli airstrikes.
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.
Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but relations have remained cool, restricted to security cooperation and limited economic links.
Egypt’s brokering of the Gaza truce allowed it to reassert its diplomatic role in the region in the wake of deals by four Arab states to normalize ties with Israel last year.
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.
Israel and Egypt are two of Washington’s main allies in the Middle East and are the largest recipients of US military aid, and they have worked together on security issues.
El-Sisi, in a 2019 interview on CBS, acknowledged Egypt’s Army was working closely with Israel in combating “terrorists” in the restive North Sinai.