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Israel and PA Welcome Egypt’s Offer to Broker Peace

May 23, 2016

“Now since the Lord, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before His people Israel, what right have you to take it over?  Will you not take what your god … gives you?  Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess.”  (Judges 11:23–24)

During a press conference this past Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi offered Egypt’s involvement in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, no matter the solution, and said Israeli-Egyptian relations would warm as a direct result.

“There is currently an Arab initiative, a French initiative, there are American efforts, and there is a quartet that are all working towards a solution to this issue,” al-Sisi said at the Tuesday press conference in southern Egypt.  “In Egypt, we do not intend on playing a leading role or to be leaders of this issue, but we are prepared to exert all efforts that will contribute to finding a solution to this problem.”

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (Kremlin photo)

Offering Israel a warming of ties, Al-Sisi said, “If we are able to solve the issue of our Palestinian brothers it will achieve warmer peace … I ask that the Israeli leadership allow this speech to be broadcast in Hebrew one or two times as this is a genuine opportunity.”  (Daily News Egypt)

Al-Sisi also asked the “Israeli factions and the Israeli leadership to please agree on finding a solution to the crisis, and this should be in return for nothing but good for the current and future generations and children.”

“I can see this, if this hope can be achieved by finding a solution to the issue, and there becomes a Palestinian state, I can guarantee, and we can all guarantee peace and security for both sides,” the Egyptian president said.

Al-Sisi also offered Egypt as a mediator between the factions within the PA — Hamas, which rules Gaza; and Fatah, which rules the Judea-Samaria region known as the “West Bank” — so that they might resolve their internal differences and speak at peace talks with one voice.

“I say to our Palestinian brothers, you must unite the different factions — and I won’t add anything else to this point — in order to achieve reconciliation and quickly,” al-Sisi said.   “We as Egypt are prepared to take on this role for nothing else than to loyally and responsibly place a real opportunity to find a long-awaited solution.”

“What I am saying is that if by our combined efforts and real desire, we can all achieve a solution to this problem and find hope for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis.  History will write a new page that will be no less and might be even more of an achievement than the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel that happened 40 years ago,” al-Sisi said.

The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty signed in 1979 followed four major wars between the countries from 1948–1973.  Al-Sisi pointed to the peace that comes by establishing “trust and reassurance” between the parties.

Triple Handshake-Begin-Carter-Sadat-Peace Treaty-Washington

The Triple Handshake: Prime Minister Menachem Begin, US President Jimmy Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after the signature of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty in Washington.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed al-Sisi’s words “and his willingness to make every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians and the peoples of the region.”

“Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region,” Netanyahu said, a statement also published on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office.  “I appreciate President al-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue.”

According to Israel’s Channel 2, Netanyahu and al-Sisi speak on the phone about once a week and that the statement “didn’t surprise” the Israeli prime minister; it might have even been coordinated.

Israeli reports have suggested that al-Sisi’s statement was meant as a prompt for Israeli politicians to bring the Zionist Union party of Israeli opposition leader into the Netanyahu government.  Both the majority government led by Netanyahu’s Likud party and the opposition coalition “are eager to undergo a peace initiative,” said Israel Daily TV.

PA representative, and a member of the PLO Executive Committee, also affirmed al-Sisi’s statement in a comment to Reuters, “We welcome any efforts aimed at ending the Israeli occupation.”

On a short visit in Cairo on Wednesday, United States Secretary of State John Kerry met with al-Sisi and “expressed his appreciation” for his “recent statement of strong support for advancing Arab-Israeli peace,” said Kerry spokesman Mark Toner.

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