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Egypt’s President throws weight behind Israel-Palestinian peace effort

Egypt has said that it would “make every effort” to work towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In an unexpected televised speech at the opening of a power plant, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said: “There is an opportunity to write a new chapter of peace in the area.” He outlined the current efforts, saying “There is an Arab initiative, there is currently a French initiative, and there are American efforts,” towards peace. However, he added that Egypt is prepared to play a significant role in such efforts, saying “If we can all join forces in order to solve the Palestinian issue by creating hope for Palestinians and assuring security for Israelis… that may prove to be more important than the peace accords between Israel and Egypt,” which have held firm since 1979.

Further comparing the potential for a new chapter between Israel and the Palestinians to the peace between Israel and Egypt, al-Sisi explained: “After signing the peace accords, no one thought that true and lasting peace, as it exists today between Israel and Egypt, could be achieved. However, it became a permanent peace due to the changing times and reality.”

Al-Sisi rarely speaks on foreign affairs and although Egypt has strengthened ties with Israel under his leadership, Israel remains largely unpopular among Egyptians. Al-Sisi asked for his speech to be broadcast in Israel. He also said that the Palestinians “must unite the different factions in order to achieve reconciliation and quickly. We as Egypt are prepared to take on this role”.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed al-Sisi’s remarks. He commented: “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 al-Sisi’s work… on this important issue.” Meanwhile, head of Israel’s opposition, Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog also praised al-Sisi, saying “I applaud the Egyptian President’s announcement. It was a dramatic announcement that reflects a possibility for a historic process.”