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Netanyahu Praises Sisi’s Calls for Talks, Says Israel Will Work with Arabs for Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s recent push for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, saying in a statement Tuesday that Israel is “ready to participate” in efforts to advance diplomacy.

“I welcome Egyptian President El-Sisi’s remarks and his willingness to make every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians and the peoples of the region,” Netanyahu stated. “Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region. I appreciate President El-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue.”

Sisi said in a live televised speech Tuesday that there was a “real opportunity” for Israelis and Palestinians to make peace. He called on the parties to take lessons from the “real and stable peace” between Israel and Egypt.

The Egyptian president noted that there were many possible paths to take: “There is an Arab initiative, there is currently a French initiative, and there are American efforts” to broker a settlement, he said. Israel has expressed skepticism toward the multilateral French effort, since it will be outside of the framework of direct negotiations, which were established by the Oslo Accords as the key to achieving peace. Sisi made a similar call for renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians last September.

Ties between Israel and Egypt have improved since Sisi came to power in 2013. Both nations have shared interests in fighting ISIS-affiliated terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has allowed the Egyptian army to technically break their peace treaty by operating in the eastern and northern parts of Sinai against ISIS. Israel also helped Egypt locate a Russian airliner that had crashed in the Sinai last year. This January, Egypt returned an ambassador to Israel, a move that Netanyahu said would “further strengthen relations with this important and key Arab country.” When Egypt agreed last month to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, it obtained a guarantee that the Saudis would respect Israel’s right of passage through the area.

Sisi acknowledged in a Washington Post interview last year that he talks with Netanyahu “a lot.”

[Photo: Emil Salman / POOL ]