Sissi urges Israeli public to seize ‘a great opportunity for peace’

In direct appeal in Cairo conference, Egyptian president says solution to conflict won’t harm Israel’s security or stability

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a youth conference in Cairo, Egypt, July 29, 2018. (MENA via AP)
In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a youth conference in Cairo, Egypt, July 29, 2018. (MENA via AP)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Sunday appealed directly to the Israeli public, calling on it to seize “a great opportunity” for peace.

“We have a great opportunity to achieve peace in the region and solve the Palestinian issue,” Sissi said in an address at a conference for youth at Cairo university carried by the country’s media.

“This solution will not take away from your security or stability,” he added, clarifying that he was directing his words at Israelis.

On the other hand, Sissi added that Egypt cannot agree to any solution opposed by the Palestinian leadership.

“Egypt’s policies are clear,” he added. “We support all UN decisions, the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and [an Israeli withdrawal] to pre-1967 borders.”

“Egypt is seeking to lighten the burden on Gaza and that’s why the Rafah Crossing was open for the past two months,” he said. “Egypt is trying to be a positive factor and calmly undertake its role.”

Ronald Lauder in Leipzig, Germany, August 30, 2010. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images, via JTA/File)

Earlier Sunday, Sissi met with US-based World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, and said he supports efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He added that a key step on the way to that goal was achieving internal Palestinian reconciliation in which the Palestinian Authority restores its rule over the Gaza Strip.

In the meeting, Sissi also expressed keenness to strengthen Egypt’s strategic ties with the US, according to Egyptian media.

US President Donald Trump has long promised to try and reach the so-called “deal of the century” to end the long-simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but his efforts have derailed since his decision to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The PA has castigated the move, declared the US no longer an honest broker in negotiations, and rejected any plan the White House may come out with. PA President Mahmoud Abbas called the embassy move the “slap of the century,” earlier this year.

The Palestinians have refused to meet with the US to discuss peace overtures since December, when Trump announced the move and declared he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Adam Rasgon and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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