Egypt’s Sissi makes impromptu plea at UN for Israeli-Palestinian peace
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'Do not hesitate. We are standing with you'

Egypt’s Sissi makes impromptu plea at UN for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Breaking from prepared remarks, president says sides need to take advantage of opportunity that 'may not be repeated'

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017.  (AFP/Jewel SAMAD)
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. (AFP/Jewel SAMAD)

Egypt’s president made an impassioned pitch for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, calling Tuesday for both sides to take advantage of a “rare” opportunity to achieve the elusive goal.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi broke from his prepared remarks to the UN General Assembly in classical Arabic to address Israelis and Palestinians informally in colloquial Egyptian Arabic, saying they should take advantage of an opportunity that “may not be repeated.”

Sissi called on the Palestinians to unite behind a common goal and to accept coexistence with Israel in peace and security.

He also reassured Israelis by citing Egypt’s long-established peace with their nation which has lasted over 40 years, saying that “amazing” step can be repeated with the Palestinians.

“Do not hesitate,” Sissi said, addressing the Israeli public. “We are standing with you to make this step a success.”

Sissi also called on US President Donald Trump to take advantage of an opportunity that could “write a new page of the history of mankind by establishing peace in this region of the world.”

The comments came a day after Sissi held his first public meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The two leaders had “a comprehensive discussion about the problems of the region,” according to a readout provided by the Prime Minister’s Office. Sissi “expressed his desire to assist in efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the region,” it said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, right, in New York on September 19, 2017 (Avi Ohayun)

Sissi emphasized the importance of “resuming negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides to reach a comprehensive solution,” the presidency said.

The two leaders discussed “ways to resume the peace process and establish a Palestinian state,” it said.

Sissi has also been at the forefront of brokering a reconciliation agreement between Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas.

The Monday meeting with Netanyahu followed a rare phone conversation earlier in the day between Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh following Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks.

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