Netanyahu to meet with Egypt’s Sissi in first public talks

Egyptian leader also sits down with Abbas in NY on Monday; reported confab follows Trump’s optimistic comments on peace prospects

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a press conference on February 18, 2017 (AFP/Simon Maina)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a press conference on February 18, 2017 (AFP/Simon Maina)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to meet with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in New York on Monday in the first ever public meeting between the two leaders.

The scheduled meeting, reported by Egyptian media, was not denied by Netanyahu when he was asked about it by Israeli reporters.

The two leaders are currently in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Netanyahu is last known to have met with Sissi in February 2016, when the two attended a secret summit in Aqaba with former US secretary of state John Kerry and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. That covert meeting was part of a push to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and seek recognition of Israel as a Jewish state by Arab countries, the Haaretz daily reported in February.

Since they established diplomatic relations in 1978 after years of hostility and a series of wars, ties between Israel and Egypt have historically been civil but frosty. However, the two countries have enjoyed closer intelligence and security ties in recent years over their shared enmity towards Islamist terror groups and other common regional concerns.

Sissi met with a group of US Jewish leaders in New York earlier Monday, during which he said he was optimistic about the Trump administration’s efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, the Haaretz daily reported.

Sissi has previously met with American Jewish leaders on a number of occasions.

US President Donald Trump listens while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press prior to their meeting at the Palace Hotel in New York City ahead of the United Nations General Assembly on September 18, 2017.(AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

The Egyptian leader also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in New York on Monday.

Earlier Monday, Netanyahu met with US President Donald Trump. The prime minister was also set to hold a series of meetings later in the day with world leaders at the UN, including with the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela; the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe; and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Ahead of their meeting, Trump reiterated his desire to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and told the visiting Netanyahu there was a “good chance” such an accord could happen.

Netanyahu, for his part, focused his remarks on the Iran nuclear deal and the Islamic Republic’s military expansion in the region, but also said “we will discuss the ways we can seize the opportunity for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world. I think these things go together.”

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