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Sisi, Netanyahu Discuss Security Guarantees in Gaza, Revival of Peace Talks - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Cairo, New York, Tel Aviv – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the means to revive peace talks in the Middle East, during a bilateral meeting in New York on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Egyptian political and parliamentary sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Egyptian security guarantees on the Gaza Strip were a major focus of the rare meeting between the two sides, in light of the recent understandings between Cairo and the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Tuesday’s encounter was the first “publicized” meeting between the two leaders since Sisi took office in 2014.

A statement issued by the Egyptian presidency said that Sisi met with the Israeli prime minister in the presence of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, General Intelligence Chief Khaled Fawzi and General Abbas Kamel, Director of the Office of the President.

Official presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef said that the two officials discussed ways to revive the peace process, with Sisi underlining the role Egypt is playing in resuming negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis in order to reach a fair and comprehensive settlement to their conflict.

The settlement will be based on the two-state solution and international resolutions on the dispute, he added.

The Egyptian president hailed efforts deployed by the US administration to that end, saying that a fair settlement will lead to a new reality in the Middle East where all peoples can live in stability and security and enjoy development.

For his part, Netanyahu expressed his appreciation of Egypt’s important role in the region and its efforts in combating terrorism, Youssef said.

Egypt and Israel maintain security coordination because of the massive deployment of armed groups in Egypt’s northern Sinai governorate along the borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ambassador Naji al-Ghatrifi, the former Egyptian deputy foreign minister, said: “Chances of a breakthrough in reviving the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis are still limited and are mainly linked to ending the internal Palestinian division.”

“The other qualitative development is that Hamas is committed to its separation from other extremist groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood,” he continued.

On Sunday, Hamas announced its decision to dissolve the administrative committee in Gaza, in response to a request from the Palestinian Authority. It also agreed to hold general elections to end a long-running dispute with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.

Egyptian MP Samir Ghattas said, for his part, that the meeting between Sisi and Netanyahu revolved around Israel’s efforts to obtain Egyptian security guarantees on the Gaza Strip, after the recent agreement with Hamas.

“From the Israeli point of view, Hamas is still a terrorist movement; that’s why Israel wants to hold Egypt responsible for ensuring security in the Gaza Strip,” he noted, ruling out any significant progress in reviving Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at the present moment.

Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister announced on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump had “a very strong desire” to advance the process of general reconciliation with the Arab world.

Netanyahu made the remarks in an interview with Israeli journalists after his meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

He noted that Trump’s advisors were trying to achieve progress on the resumption of peace talks, but so far no advancement has been made.

“The president did not go into details,” Netanyahu said. “He is hoping for progress with the Palestinians, and he is assigning this task to his team.”

Netanyahu said he was keen on achieving peace with the Palestinians, “and I hold on to vital interests, especially security.”

On Iran, the Israeli prime minister said that he sensed a change in the American system regarding Iran, and that this was also influencing the international community.

“The Americans have a desire to fix the agreement (nuclear deal), and I offered a plan on how to do it,” he added, without going into detail.