Speaking at an infrastructure conference in Assiut, Egypt, President Sisi said a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine will make the region a safer place as he renewed his country’s determination to continue mediation efforts. “I say we will achieve a warmer peace if we resolve the issue of our Palestinian brothers”, probably referring to reconciling Hamas and Fatah, “and give hope to the Palestinians as to the establishment of a state” in a deal with Israel. Sisi said his government is “willing to make all efforts to help find a solution” as he noted that there is an Arab initiative, a French initiative and American efforts to end the conflict.
Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel earlier this week rejected the French initiative and Paris yesterday announced the conference was postponed to summer instead of holding it at the end of the month as scheduled. Netanyahu welcomed Sisi’s proposal and work before stating “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.” He added that “Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region.”
Sisi said the moment is “a genuine opportunity” for both parties but urged Palestine’s different factions to unite “in order to achieve reconciliation and quickly.” Hamas and the Palestinian authority welcomed the proposal.
Egypt has been a key stakeholder in mediating between Hamas and Fatah as well as between Palestinian and Israeli authorities. All parties have always been willing to cooperate with Cairo but the arrival of President Sisi marked a thorny period in relations with Hamas as the Palestinian movement was accused of supporting extremist groups in the Sinai Peninsula. Hamas had close ties with President Morsi who was ousted in a military-back coup d’état led by Sisi.