NEW YORK – Egypt is willing “to assist efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the region,” President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on Monday evening.Their 90-minute meeting was the first joint public appearance of the leaders, who met twice secretly in 2016 and who speak on the phone periodically.
Pictures released of the meeting show the two men laughing and smiling broadly.The meeting took place at the Palace Hotel, where Sisi is staying during his visit to New York to take part – like Netanyahu – in the United Nations General Assembly meeting.The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement that said the discussion was “comprehensive” and dealt with the “problems in the region.” Egypt has become increasingly involved in efforts to stabilize the situation in Gaza and bring about a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, which would lead to a reassertion of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip.Although Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is also in New York, he was not scheduled to meet either with Sisi or Netanyahu, though he will meet US President Donald Trump on Wednesday.The Palestinian leadership does not consider the meeting between Netanyahu and Sisi “to be a source of anxiety,” said PLO Executive Committee member Hanna Amira.In addition to his meeting with Sisi, Netanyahu also met the leaders of Panama, Japan and Rwanda.Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked to meet with Netanyahu, while it was Netanyahu who requested a meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, one of Israel’s staunchest allies in Africa.The Prime Minister’s Office said the meeting with Varela focused on economic issues, as did the meeting with Abe. Varela invited Netanyahu to Panama, to which the premier responded by saying that after his maiden visit to Latin America last week, he now plans a follow-up trip to Latin America.Netanyahu, who has developed a strong relationship with Abe, discussed cooperation in cyber security issues and the opening of a direct air link between the two countries. With Kagame, Netanyahu discussed increasing development aid to Rwanda and to a yet-unnamed third country.Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet Brazilian President Michel Temer before leaving for Israel on Tuesday afternoon in order to return home before Rosh Hashana. Adam Rasgon contributed to this report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met last night with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The two leaders discussed regional issues. pic.twitter.com/cNgtDlW4Ri— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) September 19, 2017