Israeli official: PM and Egypt’s Sissi to meet on UN sidelines in New York

Israeli official: PM and Egypt’s Sissi to meet on UN sidelines in New York

Akhbar el-Yom reports Egyptian president will tell the Israeli leader two-state solution must be included in the as-yet unannounced US peace plan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, right, in New York on September 19, 2017. (Avi Ohayun)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, right, in New York on September 19, 2017. (Avi Ohayun)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi will meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this week, a senior Israeli official told Reuters Monday.

According to Akhbar el-Yom, Sissi is expected to tell the Israeli leader that a two-state solution should be part of any future US peace agreement and that the plan should include the principles that were part of previous negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Channel 10 news reports.

Sissi is also likely to raise the same issues with US President Donald Trump during their expected meeting.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is predicted to use his speech to the UN Thursday to urge the international community to either save the two-state solution or take responsibility for its demise and “burial,” unnamed Palestinian sources told London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat Friday.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas chairs a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah September 15, 2018. (AFP / ABBAS MOMANI)

On Sunday the London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat reported Egypt has proposed a new framework for Palestinian reconciliation and an Israel-Hamas truce that would include an Israeli message to Hamas calling on the terror group to end its weekly protests at the Israel-Gaza border fence and maintain a 500-meter no-go area near the border.

The plan would see control of Gaza revert to the Palestinian Authority, which lost the enclave to Hamas in a violent coup in 2007.

It would also put in place limits on Hamas’s military wing, including the police, judiciary and internal security agencies in the Strip. It also reportedly calls on Hamas to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines in the West Bank and Gaza.

Egypt brokered a deal between Hamas and Fatah to bring the West Bank and Gaza under one government in October 2017, raising Palestinian hopes for the possibility of reconciliation. However, the rivals have failed to implement the agreement.

Netanyahu reportedly secretly traveled to Egypt in May to meet with Sissi, Channel 10 news reported last month.

Quoting unnamed American officials, the reports said the focus of the trip was to discuss an arrangement in the Gaza Strip that would see the return of the Palestinian Authority to the coastal enclave, a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, the easing of the Israeli and Egyptian blockades on the Strip and steps to advance humanitarian projects there.

Both Israel and Egypt enforce a number of restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Israel says its blockade is necessary to keep Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip from arming or building military infrastructure.

They also discussed returning the Israeli citizens and bodies of two soldiers being held by Hamas, which currently rules Gaza, Channel 10 reported, as well as the Trump administration’s peace plan, which has still not been made public.

During the meeting, Sissi stressed the need for the Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza, even if this done gradually and did not include the Hamas terror group giving up its weapons as a precondition. The Egyptian president said Israel, Arab states and the international community must pressure Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to do so, according to the report.

The report said the trip took place on May 22 and that most ministers in the security cabinet were not aware of the meeting between the leaders.

This week has seen an uptick in the launching of incendiary balloons, after several weeks of what was described as a lull. This followed several months of multiple daily attacks that left thousands of acres in southern Israel scorched and sparked fears of children being injured by bombs placed on balloons or kites and launched over the border.

The security fence has also been the scene of near-daily confrontation in recent months.

Palestinian protesters gather during a demonstration along the Israeli border fence east of Gaza City on September 21, 2018 as smoke plumes billow from burning tires in the background. (AFP/Said Khatib)

The clashes, which Israel says are being orchestrated by Gaza’s Hamas rulers, have included regular rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on troops, as well as shooting and IED attacks aimed at IDF soldiers and attempts to breach the border fence.

Israel says its actions — and in particular the use of live ammunition — are necessary to defend the border and stop mass infiltrations from the territory.

Israel has accused the Hamas terror group of encouraging the protests and using them as cover to attempt to carry out terror attacks, including firing at troops and attempting to breach the border fence.

According to AP figures, more than 130 Gazans have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of the clashes. Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seized control of Gaza in 2007 and seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of the Palestinian fatalities were its members.

An Israeli soldier was shot to death by a Palestinian sniper in July.

Additionally, Israel and Hamas have engaged in a number of brief exchanges of fire in recent months that have seen terror groups in Gaza launch hundreds of rockets and mortars toward Israeli territory, including one in July that was the largest flare-up in violence since the 2014 war.

Reports have proliferated that Israel is in talks with Hamas, via UN and Egyptian mediation, for a long-term truce in the Strip.

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