NEW YORK - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi on Monday night in New York. This was the first public meeting between the two leaders since al-Sissi took office.
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The Prime Minister's office said that Netanyahu spoke with al-Sissi for about an hour and a half about regional issues. Al-Sissi expressed his desire to support regional and Israeli-Palestinian regional peace effots.
Though Netanyahu and al-Sissi met in Aqaba in January 2016, that was a secret meeting. The Aqaba summit, which was also attended by King Abdullah of Jordan and then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, was first reported by Haaretz about a year after it occurred. It was convened in an effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but produced no progress.
A few months later, al-Sissi met with both Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog at the presidential palace in Cairo, but that, too, was a secret meeting. Its goal was to examine whether Herzog’s Zionist Union party could be brought into the government in order to help advance the peace process. But once again, the meeting was unsuccessful.
Al-Sissi met in New York with a group of American Jewish leaders to discuss the Trump Administration’s efforts to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal on Monday morning. According to two participants in the meeting, the Egyptian president sounded optimistic about Trump’s efforts and said that Egypt was interested in helping him. Al-Sissi said the best way to advance the peace process was through a regional approach involving the Arab states.
This is the second time in the last few months that al-Sissi has met with a group of American Jewish leaders. At the previous meeting, which took place during the Egyptian president’s visit to Washington in May, al-Sissi said he favors convening a regional peace conference under Trump’s auspices.
Netanyahu met with U.S. President Donald Trump earlier on Monday. Trump told Netanyahu that he wants to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and that he still believes doing so is possible.
Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and the Egyptian intelligence head Khaled Fawzy also participated in the meeting. Earlier on Monday in New York, al-Sissi also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.