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On rare Israel visit, Egypt FM urges 2-state solution
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 11 - 07 - 2016

Speaking during a rare visit to Israel, the Egyptian foreign minister says Egypt remains a "steadfast and unwavering" supporter of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Sameh Shoukry's trip to Jerusalem on Sunday is the first such visit since 2007. After decades of wars followed by a cold peace, Israel has emerged as a discreet ally to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
El-Sisi recently called for the resumption of peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.
Egypt, followed by Jordan, are the only Middle Eastern countries to make peace with Israel.
In a press conference with Shoukry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinians "to follow the courageous example of Egypt and Jordan and join us for direct negotiations."
Shoukry visited Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank last month.
Shoukry also held discussions with Palestinian leaders during a visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 29.
Netanyahu confirmed his visit to Israel and said the last such trip by an Egyptian foreign minister was in 2007.
"This visit is important for several reasons," said Netanyahu.
"It reflects the change in relations between Israel and Egypt, including President Sisi's important call to advance the peace process with the Palestinians and with Arab countries."
El-Sisi said in May that there was a "real opportunity" for an Israeli-Palestinian deal that could lead to warmer ties between his country and Israel.
El-Sisi urged both sides to seize what he said was a "real opportunity" and hailed Egypt's peace deal with Israel.
Egypt's foreign ministry said Shoukry and Netanyahu would discuss "laying the foundation and specifics of confidence-building between Palestinians and Israelis to create a supportive environment to resume direct negotiations between them with the aim of reaching a comprehensive and just solution."
Israeli public radio said the trip was also partly intended to prepare the groundwork for a possible visit by Netanyahu to Cairo, but officials have yet to comment on the report.
In 1979, Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with neighbouring Israel after years of conflict, and it remains an influential player in the region.
Their ties have however been formally cold over Israel's policies towards the Palestinians, and relations further soured after the June 2012 election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi as Egyptian president. — Agencies


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