Amid Unity Talks, Netanyahu and Herzog Praise Sissi's Call for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Israeli prime minister and opposition leader issue statements supporting resumption of peace process. On Sunday, Herzog said unity government posed a 'rare' opportunity to improve Israel's Mideast ties.

Netanyahu and Herzog in the Knesset, 2014.
Olivieh Fitoussi

With negotiations over a unity government at their peak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog issued corresponding statements on Tuesday welcoming Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi's call to renew the peace process.

Sources close to Netanyahu and Herzog said that Sissi didn't coordinate his speech with them, and that they didn't know of it in advance.

"I welcome the remarks by Egyptian President Sissi and his readiness to make every effort to promote a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians and the peoples of the region," Netanyahu said.

"Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab countries to promote the diplomatic process and the stability of the region. I appreciate President Sissi's activities and am encouraged by the leadership he's displaying also on this issue," he added.

Zionist Union head Herzog also said that he welcomes Sissi's announcement.

"It’s a dramatic statement that reflects an opportunity for a historical process, in which the moderate Arab world expects a brave, strong and realistic reaching out by Israel. It's our duty to examine it seriously, otherwise we will be finding ourselves doing so after the next funeral procession. It's very important to listen to the words of the Egyptian president and to examine the opportunities in his words seriously and responsibly."

Earlier on Tuesday, Sissi declared his support for the French proposal to hold a Mideast peace conference later this year and said he was prepared to "make every effort" to contribute to an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. Sissi called on Israel and the Palestinians to seize what he described as a "realistic" and "great" opportunity to reach a peaceful settlement to their decades-old conflict.

On Sunday, Herzog said a unity government would pose an alleged "rare" opportunity to improve its relations with the region. He offered no details about said opportunity, but he stressed that if it’s okay for his party to negotiate with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, then it’s also okay for it to negotiate with Netanyahu. The unity talks are highly contested within Herzog's party, Zionist Union.