The leaders from across the world gathered in the New York City to join in the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). While the general debate continues between the leaders, two of the Middle Eastern leaders were seen meeting on the sidelines of the Assembly.
On the second day of the UNGA, the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at Sisi’s hotel in the New York City. As per the reports, the meeting lasted for nearly two hours and was organized to discuss about the regional developments and the situation in the Gaza Strip.
Posting a picture of him shaking hand with the Egyptian leader, Netanyahu tweeted, “I met tonight in New York City with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to discuss regional developments.”
A statement from the spokesman of the Egyptian President, Bassem Rad said that the leaders discussed the “ways to revive the peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to the statement, the Egyptian President spoke about the need for renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, aiming to obtain a fair solution to the conflict, in compliance with decisions by the international community.
Sisi emphasized that “a final and just settlement to the Palestinian issue would contribute to providing a new situation in the Middle East,” where all the people will enjoy greater stability, security, as well as growth.
This was the second public encounter between both the leaders. Publically, they first met a year back, on September 19, 2017. Like this year, the first public meeting was also held ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York. It was disclosed only after it took place, when the two were pictured seated together, after the discussion on reviving the Middle East peace.
Amongst the handful of Arab countries, Egypt was the first to recognize Israel under a U.S.-sponsored peace accord, in 1979. Besides, the two countries maintain close co-ordination on security.
Channel 10 cited unnamed US officials, and reported that both the leaders held an undisclosed meeting in Egypt on the matter of Gaza, in May, where the Israeli Prime Minister had flown to Cairo to break the Ramadan fast with Sisi. As per the reports, the meeting was so secret that even the members of the security cabinet of Israel were not informed. They have been reports about two other covert meetings between the pair.
The relations between both the countries have been enhancing the after the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état,with close military cooperation over the Sinai insurgency. Some have even labelled Egypt as Israel’s “closest ally” in the Arab world, while others have assert that relations remain relatively cold.
The regular meet-ups between the leaders do suggest that the Israel and Egypt, which have fought three fully-fledged wars in the past, are possibly becoming the closest allies in the Arab world.