Israeli officials and journalists Monday gushed over a video showing Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi walking across a Cairo convention hall to personally greet Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar at a conference.
Sissi entered the large hall to fanfare, welcomed the convention’s guests, and then put down his mic to walk to the other side of the hall, where he spoke a few words with Elharrar.
Elharrar, who uses a wheelchair, received international attention after infamously being unable to enter the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year.
A spokesperson for Elharrar said Israelis are right to be enthused over Sissi’s warm welcome at the Egyptian Petroleum Show in Cairo.
“The president approaching the minister, the fact that he said he is happy she came, and invited her to return, is super exciting and testifies to the fact that ties that were once under wraps have become public,” the spokesperson said.
This is the first time Israel has been invited to the major regional gas conference, which has met four times before, according to Elharrar’s spokesperson. Most Egyptians reject ties with Israel despite a decades-old peace treaty between the countries.
President al-Sisi, you’ve touched us all. https://t.co/1kYBZgznEx
— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) February 14, 2022
Elharrar said at the summit that Israel’s energy industry is “a bridge for regional ties,” in comments carried by Ynet.
According to the news site, Elharrar indicated to the conference that Israeli gas would eventually reach Lebanon, via Egypt.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett joined Israelis praising the Egyptian leader for his gesture to the Israeli minister, saying he “touched us all.”
The video was first flagged by Walla reporter Barak Ravid, who called it “amazing” and a “must watch.”
“Joyful, exciting and not a coincidence,” former Channel 10 news analyst Nadav Perry tweeted.
Roi Kais, a correspondent for Kan, praised former military general Sissi as “an officer and a gentleman.”