Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli prime minister in 11 years to make an official visit to the Egyptian president on Monday, meeting Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
why it matters: This was an attempt by Sisi to establish good relations with the new Israeli government, and the Egyptians did everything possible to give Bennett an unusually warm and public welcome.
Behind the scenes: In an unusual gesture, Bennett was received on the tarmac by the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the Egyptian Director of Intelligence.
- Sissy and Bennett met face-to-face for three hours, followed by an elaborate meeting with their colleagues.
- When Bennett and his advisers arrived at the presidential compound for the meeting, they were surprised to see the Israeli flag next to the Egyptian flag.
- Flashback: When former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly met Sisi and his predecessor Hosni Mubarak, the meetings took place and the United Nations in New York and the Israeli flag in the room were not there.
Between the lines: Israeli officials speculate that by publicly inviting Bennett so early in his term, Sissi’s government is trying to signal to the Biden administration the importance of Egypt in the region.
- Once Bennett landed in Sharm el-Sheikh, the President of Egypt issued a statement celebrating the visit, and photos were released shortly after. A video of the meeting was broadcast on state TV.
- Travel planning had been going on for several weeks, But the exact date and time was kept secret for security and political reasons.
running news: The main issue discussed in the meeting was the situation in the Gaza Strip.
- “Sisi told Bennett that peace in Gaza must be maintained and that the international community needs to support Egypt’s reconstruction efforts in Gaza,” the Egyptian president said in a statement.
- An Israeli official said Bennett told Sisi that Egypt would need to strengthen two cross-border inspections between Egypt and Gaza to prevent smuggling of dual-use materials that would allow Hamas to rebuild its military capabilities. Can you
- The Israeli official said the two leaders discussed Iran and the nuclear deal, Turkey’s involvement in Libya, the crisis between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and countering ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula.
“We built the infrastructure For a deeper relationship on the way. Israel is reopening to countries in the region and is based on a peace agreement with Egypt,” Bennett said in a statement at the end of the visit.
What will happen next: Egypt is in the midst of diplomatic efforts to stabilize the situation in Gaza and prevent a new escalation. Egyptians are pressuring Hamas to avoid attacks on Israel and Israel so that more steps can be taken to improve the situation in Gaza.