In his Sunday meeting with the visiting Egyptian foreign minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his willingness to participate in a three-way summit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo, Al-Arabiya reported Monday.
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In response to the Al-Arabiya report, the Prime Minister's Bureau said that "whether this matter was discussed or not, Israel always says that it's ready for unconditional, direct and bilateral negotiations."
According to the report, Netanyahu would prefer a summit hosted by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi to the French peace initiative being formulated in Europe.
Despite the Al-Arabiya report, Ramallah estimates that Shoukry's visit to Jerusalem didn’t focus on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but on regional issues that Egypt finds more pressing. A senior Palestinian official assessed that Egypt was more concerned with the implications Israel's rapprochement with Turkey and its talks with African countries might have on the Sinai Peninsula and on Israel's economic and strategic relations.
Mahmoud al-Habash, an adviser to Abbas, told Haaretz that Netanyahu is trying to falsely present a "bypass route" to the French initiative in order to render it meaningless or in order to lead toward a three-way summit without any commitment on his behalf to actually advance a diplomatic process.
Abbas' office said that Netanyahu fails to make good on any confidence-building measures, but rather that he's only disturbed by efforts to move the conflict from the U.S.' patronage to the international arena.
Ahead of Netanyahu's meeting with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Western diplomats and senior Palestinians close to the matter told Haaretz that Egypt wants to host direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Cairo with the participation of senior Egyptian and Jordanian officials. The goal of the talks, they said, will be to develop a package of confidence-building measures that would lead to calm in the territories and improve the atmosphere between the parties.
During their meeting, Shoukry told Netanyahu that confidence-building measures are needed on the Israeli-Palestinian front in light of the constant deterioration of the situation on the ground. Netanyahu had said that he welcomes Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi initiative to renew the peace process.