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Egypt conditioning Netanyahu visit on goodwill gesture to Palestinians — report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to visit Egypt before the March elections, the Walla news site reports.

But Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi is conditioning the visit on a goodwill gesture by Netanyahu to the Palestinians, such as a declaration in support of a two-state solution, according to two Israeli sources. Netanyahu pushed back against such a demand, the report says.

The Prime Minister’s Office denies any condition was set for the visit.

According to the report, the move is a bid by Egypt to impress the Biden administration.

“President el-Sissi doesn’t care so much about the Palestinian issue, but he knows Netanyahu is looking for a campaign photo-op and is trying to get a diplomatic achievement for Egypt out of it,” an Israeli official says.

Talks over the potential visit have been ongoing for months. The trip almost went ahead last month, but was postponed by Egypt after the Israeli elections were moved up, the report says.

The last official visit by Netanyahu to Egypt was in January 2011, when he met then-president Hosni Mubarak, though he reportedly paid a secret, unofficial visit in 2018. An official visit had reportedly been set to go ahead in 2016 but was canceled after Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said Egypt had taken action — at Israel’s request — to seal a cross-border tunnel from Gaza built by the Hamas terror group.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27, 2018. (Avi Ohayon / PMO)
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