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Egyptian president sends Rosh Hashanah blessings to Israelis

Sissi calls Herzog for New Year, as Cairo said pushing for new Palestinian talks

Leader hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah in Cairo last week, and is expected to welcome PM Naftali Bennett soon

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II (left), Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (center) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attend a trilateral summit in Cairo, on September 2, 2021.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II (left), Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (center) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attend a trilateral summit in Cairo, on September 2, 2021.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called President Isaac Herzog on Sunday to send his best wishes, ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the same day that a London-based newspaper reported that Sissi is leading a push to jumpstart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

According to the President’s Office, Sissi spoke with Herzog on Sunday evening and congratulated him on his new role, as well as sending his blessings to the Israeli nation ahead of the Jewish high holidays.

Herzog’s office said that the pair discussed “bilateral issues and topics of joint concern between the neighboring countries,” and that Herzog thanked Sissi for “the important role he plays in maintaining stability and peace in the region.”

Earlier on Sunday, the London-based Rai al-Youm online newspaper reported that Sissi is planning to soon roll out an initiative to restart long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Citing “high-ranking” Arab sources, the paper said Egypt’s intelligence service was set to finalize a peace initiative it has been working on with unspecified Arab and European elements.

The report did not give details on what the initiative will include, but claimed Egypt was set to host Israeli, Palestinian, American, European, and Arab officials in the coming weeks to discuss the proposal before officially unveiling it.

President Isaac Herzog address the opening of the Tenth Annual Conference of the Israel Bar Association in Tel Aviv, September 2, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has ruled out starting a diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority, is expected to visit Egypt later this month, after receiving an invitation from Sissi during Egyptian spy chief Abbas Kamel’s trip to Israel last month.

The report comes just days after Sissi hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II for talks in Cairo. According to the report in Rai al-Youm, the Egyptian initiative was discussed during that meeting.

Herzog met Abdullah last week in Amman, in a visit that was only revealed on Saturday evening.

“There is a sense in the region of a desire to make progress, a desire to speak,” Herzog said following his visit to Jordan. “We are currently marking one year since the signing of the Abraham Accords. These accords created an important regional infrastructure. They are highly important agreements, which are transforming our region and the dialogue within it… I think that it is very important for the State of Israel’s strategic and diplomatic interests to engage everyone in dialogue.”

Bennett secretly met with Abdullah in Jordan in July, just weeks after taking office as prime minister, in the first summit between the countries’ leaders in more than three years. Tensions between Jordan and Israel had risen during former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure, but appear to have improved since Bennett took office in June, including agricultural deals and a major water sale.

Jordanian King Abdullah II, right, as Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein, second right, looks on, speaks to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, July 20, 2021 at the State Department in Washington. (Nicholas Kamm /Pool via AP)

A week ago, Defense Minister Benny Gantz met Abbas in Ramallah, in the first high-level face-to-face talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials in over a decade.

A statement from Gantz’s office said the two discussed issues related to security, diplomacy, economics, and civil affairs in wide-ranging talks.

Following the meeting, Gantz reiterated that neither Israel’s government for the PA expect any sort of diplomatic agreement anytime soon, but are still looking to cooperate on security concerns.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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