MK Kahlon confirms Netanyahu met Sisi about Gaza

Moshe Kahlon: "Everything that will happen in Gaza will be done with Egyptian mediation and involvement."

August 14, 2018 11:23
1 minute read.
MK Kahlon confirms Netanyahu met Sisi about Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President al-Sisi in New York. (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)

JERUSALEM - Israel's finance minister Moshe Kahlon confirmed on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt in May to discuss a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

A spokesman for Netanyahu had declined to comment on the meeting after it was first reported on Monday by Israel's Channel Ten News.

Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to mediate a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas following a spike in cross-border violence in the past few months.

According to the Channel Ten report, Netanyahu traveled to Cairo with a small number of advisers and security guards on May 22, when he joined Sisi in the Iftar feast breaking the Ramadan fast. It occurred just a week after the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, and violence along the Gaza border peaked when 62 Palestinians were killed in riot.

The report, based on American officials, said that the two talked about efforts to come to a political arrangement in Gaza that would include a return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, a significant lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza, and the reconstruction of vital infrastructure projects for Gaza. The two also discussed the return of the bodies of the Israeli soldiers and the Israeli civilians held by Hamas.

Asked on Israeli Army Radio whether he had known of the meeting, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon replied "Yes." He added that "everything that will happen in Gaza will be done with Egyptian mediation and involvement."

More than two million Palestinians are packed into the Gaza Strip, which is experiencing deep economic hardship. The World Bank has described the situation as a humanitarian crisis with shortages of water, electricity and medicine.

Citing security concerns, Israel and Egypt keep tight restrictions on their border crossings with Gaza, which have reduced the enclave's economy to a state of collapse.

Netanyahu and Sisi last met publicly on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York last September. They have reportedly held other clandestine meetings over the years, as security and intelligence ties between the two countries are believed to be as close as they have ever been.

Herb Keinon contributed to this article.

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