Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the UN General Assembly in New York..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK — The Palestinian issue remains a top priority for Egypt, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said during the United Nations General Debate Wednesday.
During Operation Protective Edge last month, Egypt played a crucial role in brokering a cease-fire agreement. He called for an Israeli return to the 1967 borders and to the principles established with the help of Egypt during the 1970s, including east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
“The continued deprivation of the Palestinian people of their rights is undoubtedly exploited by some to inflame other crises, achieve hidden goals, fragment Arab unity, and impose control on Palestinians under the guise of realizing their aspirations,” Sisi said.
The newly elected Egyptian president asked heads of state not to hold the Islamic faith responsible for terrorist organizations, like the Islamic State. As it has been many times before, religion, Sisi said, has been misappropriated.
“The upsurge in extremism and violence perpetrated in the name of religion that the region is currently witnessing is evidence of the true objectives of these groups that exploit the region," Sisi said, citing the indiscriminate killings of groups like ISIS.
He stressed to the heads of state attending the General Assembly that terrorist organizations growing in prominence in the Middle East should not be allowed to abuse and sully Islam’s reputation.
“Terrorists come from differing societies. They are not bound together by any true religious faith,” he said.
The president cited Egypt’s two recent revolutions and by extension the will of the people as a sign that the country is committed to becoming a democratic power. The new Egyptian constitution, the upcoming parliamentary elections, and the country’s embrace of the principle of the separation of powers — wherein the judiciary, legislative, and executive branches don’t have sway over each other—are proof of Egypt’s ambitions, he said.
Additionally, Sisi talked about plans to build a strong free market economy beginning with the “New Suez Canal Project.” To show his seriousness, Sisi invited the heads of state to attend an economic conference scheduled for next February.
Casting his net wider than Egypt, Sisi reaffirmed his commitment to the security of the Arab world on “the basis of our common heritage and destiny, and our longing for the stability of a region crucial to the world.” Sisi expressed his desire for Egypt to become a stable nation providing cohesion and leadership within the region.