Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's bureau issued a statement following the prime minister's meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh stating that the two leaders discussed a long list of subjects, among them ways of deepening and strengthening cooperation between the two countries, with an emphasis on boosting trade.
Bennet thanked Al-Sisi for the important role that Egypt was playing in the region, and said that after over four decades, the peace agreement between the two countries continued to be a foundation of security and stability in the Middle East. The prime minister stressed the significant role being filled by Egypt in maintaining security stability in the Gaza Strip and in finding a solution for captive and missing Israelis. At the end of the meeting, Bennett thanked Al-Sisi for the warm hospitality he had received in the coastal city of Sharm El-Sheikh. The two leaders agreed to continue to deepen cooperation and dialogue between their two countries at all levels.
Bennett said at the end of the meeting, "I have just concluded a first visit to the president of Egypt. The meeting was very important and very good. During the meeting, first and foremost, we laid the foundation for a deep ties as we go forward. We discussed a series of diplomatic, security, and economic issues, and ways of deepening ties and strengthening the interests of our countries. Israel is opening up to the countries of the region, and the basis for this recognition is the peace between Israel and Egypt. Therefore, on both sides, we must invest in strengthening this relationship, and that's what we did today."
The Al Arabiya news channel reported that the meeting was intended to build the basis for a regional peace conference to be held in the near future. Egyptian media gave extensive coverage to the meeting, emphasizing the question of the Gaza Strip.
The prime minister was greeted by Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Hassan Shoukry, and Major General Abbas Kamel, director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate. Afterwards, Bennett held a one-on one meeting with President Al-Sisi lasting about three hours. There followed a working meeting of the teams of both sides. Israel was represented by Dr. Eyal Hulata, head of the National Security Council, the prime minister's military secretary Avi Gil, and his diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir. This was followed by lunch with the participation of the prime minister and the president.
Al-Sisi was quoted in the Egyptian press as saying, "Egypt supports all efforts to achieve general peace in the Middle East, based on the two-state solution and decisions of international legitimacy that will strengthen the security and tranquility of all peoples of the region." In the prime minister's statement, however, there is no mention of any discussion on diplomatic talks with the Palestinians.
A diplomatic source said that the main issues discussed at the meeting were calming the situation in the Gaza Strip and preventing the strengthening of Hamas through tighter controls at the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. According to reports in the Egyptian media, Al-Sisi promised to take action to halt rocket fire and gunfire from the Gaza Strip, but pressed Bennett to halt Israeli reprisal attacks.
The two men also discussed the issue of prisoners and missing persons in the Gaza Strip, against a background of reports of renewal of negotiations with Hamas on the matter. Iran's nuclear program and its aggression in the region also arose in the talks, as did Turkey's involvement in the civil war in Libya, and the crisis in relations between Egypt and Ethiopia because of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.
On the economic front, plans for substantial expansion of trade between Israel and Egypt were discussed, and also tourism. This mainly means Israelis travelling to Egypt, as hardly any Egyptian tourists come to Israel.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 14, 2021
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