Egypt’s Foreign Minister to Visit Israel for First Time in Almost a Decade

TEL AVIV—Egypt’s foreign minister will make a rare visit to Israel on Sunday to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid a push by Israeli and Palestinian officials for Cairo to resume its past role as a peace mediator.

It is the highest-level meeting between the two countries in Israel in nearly a decade.

Sameh Shoukry will meet Mr. Netanyahu in the afternoon and evening, the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement posted on its website.

“Today’s visit is important from many points of view. It teaches about the change that has come over Israel-Egypt relations, including President [Abdel Fattah] Al Sisi’s important call to advance the peace process with both the Palestinians and Arab countries,” Mr. Netanyahu said ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign minister said Sunday on social media that Mr. Shoukry is heading to Israel in support of the peace process, as elaborated by Mr. Sisi in May. The last time an Egyptian foreign minister visited Israel was in 2007.

Israeli officials have held discussions with Mr. Sisi about reviving an Arab states-led initiative to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal ahead of a conference in Paris last month. At the same time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to persuade Mr. Sisi to play a key role in an initiative put forward by France, according to Palestinian officials.

Israeli and Palestinian officials have said they believe Mr. Sisi can act as an honest broker between the two sides, as security cooperation between Egypt and Israel is at unprecedented levels and the Egyptian leader has indicated he is committed to establishing a Palestinian state.

Mr. Shoukry met with Mr. Abbas in Ramallah recently to assure the Palestinians of Egypt’s continued support, according to Egypt’s state-run newspaper Ahram.

“The Egyptian foreign minister is coming on behalf of the president of Egypt; we welcome him,” Mr. Netanyahu said on Sunday.

The meeting between Egypt’s foreign minister and Mr. Netanyahu comes just days after the Israeli prime minister’s four-nation Africa visit in an effort to build deeper diplomatic and commercial ties on the continent.

It also comes after a recent report from the Quartet for the Middle East peace process—comprising the United Nations, U.S., Russia and the European Union—criticized both the current Israeli and Palestinian approaches to peace.

Mr. Shoukry’s visit represents an understanding that there is a way forward to restarting talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said Mira Tzoreff, a research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East and African Studies at the Tel Aviv University.

—Dahlia Kholaif in Cairo contributed to this article.

Source: wsj

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