by: Kate Norman
Tuesday, 14 September 2021 | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi yesterday in the first official meeting between the two nations’ leaders in over a decade.
Meeting in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, the leaders discussed “a series of issues in the diplomatic, security and economic spheres, as well as ways to deepen ties and strengthen the interests of our countries,” Bennett said in a statement released by his office.
Bennett described the meeting as “very important and very good,” adding that he and President el-Sisi “created a foundation for deep ties in the future.”
“Israel is increasingly opening up to the countries of the region, and the basis of this longstanding recognition is the peace between Israel and Egypt,” the prime minister added. “Therefore, on both sides we must invest in strengthening this link, and we have done so today.”
Unlike past meetings between Israeli and Egyptian officials, this meeting was open and publicized, with Prime Minister Bennett even photographed seated in front of the Israeli flag bearing the Star of David.
Egypt became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1979, but the peace has largely remained on the intergovernmental and security level rather than people-to-people peace.
However, Monday’s meeting is the latest in a series between Israel and Egypt, signaling warming ties between the neighboring states.
Egypt’s intelligence director visited Israel last month to meet with Bennett on “diplomatic, security and economic issues,” and also extended the invitation from el-Sisi for Bennett to visit Egypt—which the prime minister eagerly accepted.
Just days after that meeting, Israel downgraded its travel warning for the Sinai Peninsula, previously known as a hotbed for Islamic State militants and other terrorist groups.
The last public visit of an Israeli prime minister to Egypt was in 2011 when then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with then-President Hosni Mubarak. Netanyahu reportedly made secret trips to Egypt in the succeeding years, but no more official visits.
Egypt has filled the role of mediator between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group in control of the Gaza Strip. Sharing its own border with Gaza, Egypt has long sought quiet in the volatile region and is credited with the tentative cease-fire that ended the volatile 11 days of fighting in May as well as continued efforts to negotiate a long-term cease-fire to bring calm to the region.
Posted on September 14, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 14, 2021)
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