Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Thursday he had urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in phone conversations to restart the peace process with the Palestinians, explaining that he believes the only solution for tensions and ongoing violence in the region is the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Speaking to France 24 about the unrest surrounding the Temple Mount in recent months, Sissi said the Palestinians “are frustrated, are disappointed, are hopeless.”
“On my behalf when I talk to Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu I always tell him: We need to deliver some hope to the Palestinians,” he said. “We have to give them a state… so they can live in peace alongside the Israeli people.”
Sissi added that all the nations in the region were required to lend a hand to this process. “We have a chance now to defuse this crisis. This crisis which has an impact on the whole area… We must provide all the guarantees for the emerging Palestinian state and for the State of Israel so that neither of the two countries be in danger from the other country,” he said.
“Without this, the tension will last and instability will last too.”
Sissi added that Egypt’s actions to clear out terror infrastructure in the Sinai Peninsula were intended to protect the nation’s sovereignty in the region and to prevent attacks against its neighbors from within its territory.
“We will never allow anyone to launch attacks from out territory against neighbors or against Israel,” he said.
Egypt has been demolishing homes on the Sinai border with the Gaza Strip to construct a buffer zone with the Hamas-controlled enclave in Cairo’s latest security measure to stem jihadists reportedly infiltrating from across the border.
More than 800 homes are being destroyed and 1,100 families displaced to build the 500-meter (yard) wide and 13.5-kilometer (about eight-mile) long buffer zone in north Sinai province.
The military began razing houses along the border with Gaza in late October after militants killed at least 30 soldiers in a checkpoint attack in north Sinai, a region rocked by insurgency since the army toppled Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.
Egypt’s deadliest militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, claimed the attack and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
During the interview Sissi was asked several times about Hamas’s involvement in the unrest in Sinai. The Egyptian leader said that he believed all extremism had “the same roots” but would not comment on Hamas specifically.
AFP contributed to this report.