PM welcomes Cairo peace push: ‘There’s so much we can do together’
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PM welcomes Cairo peace push: ‘There’s so much we can do together’

At event marking Egyptian independence, Netanyahu calls relationship an ‘anchor of stability and security in our region’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on July 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on July 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Egypt’s regional role on Thursday, saying there was “so much that we can accomplish together” and praising President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for his efforts to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Speaking at an official reception at the Egyptian ambassador’s home to mark Egypt’s independence day, known as Revolution Day, the prime minister said Israeli-Egyptian peace had survived storms and turbulence to become “an anchor of stability and security in our region.”

He extolled the virtues of that relationship, which he said “made history by showing the world that peace between Arabs and Israelis is possible and sustainable.”

And he welcomed “the effort to incorporate other Arab states in this larger effort of a broader peace between all the peoples of the Middle East.”

The event was also attended by President Reuven Rivlin, who said Egypt’s leadership was indispensable in the Middle East. He called Cairo “a strategic partner: in security, commerce, and regional cooperation.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi listens to US Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo on May 18, 2016. (Amr Nabil/Pool/AFP)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi listens to US Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo on May 18, 2016. (Amr Nabil/Pool/AFP)

He added that “There are many economic projects that we can only develop in cooperation, and I hope that we can work together to carry out these projects for the benefit of all peoples.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, ministers, Knesset members and other dignitaries were also in attendance.

Sissi said this month that his country was serious about pushing forward peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Egypt’s recent serious effort aims to break the deadlock that has hung over peace efforts,” he said in a speech broadcast live on state TV. “It is a sincere effort to make everyone face their responsibilities and warn of the consequences of delays in achieving peace.”

His remarks followed a trip by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to Israel earlier this month, the first such visit in nine years.

Sissi said in May that Egypt was willing to take part in peace talks, saying there was a “real opportunity” for an Israeli-Palestinian deal that could lead to warmer ties between his country and Israel.

Netanyahu, who met Shoukry during his visit, welcomed Sissi’s offer. Shoukry also met Palestinian leaders in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in April 2014.

In 1979, Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel after years of conflict. It remains an influential player in the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday, July 10, 2016 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Sunday, July 10, 2016 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In June, representatives from 28 Arab and Western countries, the Arab League, European Union and the United Nations met in Paris to discuss ways push peace efforts forward.

Neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives were invited to attend the meeting, which aimed to prepare for a peace conference by the end of the year.

The Palestinians have welcomed the French bid but Israel strongly opposes the initiative.

AFP contributed to this report.

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