CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said Wednesday that the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization accord represents a step toward regional peace by preserving Palestinian rights and Israeli security.
The United Arab Emirates and Israel agreed to normalize ties in a watershed US-brokered deal under which the Jewish state has suspended plans to annex parts of the West Bank
Palestinians, however, have condemned it as a “betrayal” of their cause.
In a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sissi voiced his support for “any steps that would bring peace” to the volatile Middle East, according to a statement from the Egyptian President’s office.
He welcomed measures that “preserve the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, allow for the establishment of their independent state and provide security for Israel.”
The UAE-Israeli agreement announced on August 13 was a “step in that direction,” he said.
Sissi, however, warned against any unilateral decisions that “would undermine the chances for peace” and called for talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Netanyahu’s office said that the two “discussed regional challenges and the strengthening of relations and cooperation in a range of areas.”
“They welcomed the development of relations with the United Arab Emirates,” a statement from the PMO said.
The UAE became the third Arab country to agree to normalize ties with Israel, after Egypt signed a peace deal in 1979 and Jordan followed suit in 1994.
Amid tensions on Israel’s border with Gaza, Netanyahu’s office also said he thanked Sissi “for Egypt’s support in advancing stability in the region, especially in Gaza, and asked that he continue assisting in the return of our prisoners and our missing.”
Egypt is seen as a key actor in calming tensions between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza border, including in the most recent flare-up.
Israeli tanks and fighter jets, attack helicopters and other aircraft carried out strikes on roughly 100 Hamas targets throughout the Gaza Strip over the past three weeks in response to rocket launches and airborne arson attacks by terror groups in the coastal enclave, the Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday.
The announcement came after Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement on Monday night, under which terrorists in the Strip halted the violence along the border and Israel reopened Gaza’s fishing zone and border crossings.
The Gaza ceasefire was brokered by Qatar, as well as the Egyptian military and the United Nations. It ended a nearly month-long round of low-level violence along the border.
Israel did not explicitly confirm the existence of an agreement, but tacitly acknowledged it by promising to reopen the fishing zone and crossings if calm was maintained.