Netanyahu and Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Israeli delegation secretly arrived in Cairo on Sunday afternoon on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to arrange a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, according to Palestinian news agency Ma'an.
The delegation hopes to enlist the assistance of the Egyptians in organizing a tripartite meeting between Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Sisi in order to reboot the moribund peace process ahead of a French-initiated peace conference scheduled to take place in Paris in early June.
Israel and the Palestinians have not been invited to the Paris meeting.
The Palestinians have welcomed the initiative, while Netanyahu has thus far opposed it, fearing it would give the Palestinians an excuse to avoid direct talks with Israel. Netanyahu has said the Palestinians do not need a conference in Paris to open a dialogue between Ramallah and Jerusalem, given that the two cities are located right next to each other.
But the international community, including the United States, has come out in favor of the initiative, which will begin with a ministerial meeting of more than 20 countries.
The delegation, led by Aviva Raz Shechter, the director general of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East Division, is reportedly made up of a number of high-ranking officials from the Foreign Ministry and the security establishment.
The delegation brought with it a number of proposals based upon a framework peace initiative suggested by Sisi and the Arab world. The delegation will also discuss the ongoing security situation challenges facing the Sinai.
According to a Channel 10 report aired earlier this week, moderate Arab governments in the region have communicated to Netanyahu their willingness to engage in negotiations with Israel over possible changes to a 2002 Saudi peace initiative
so that it may serve as the agreed-upon basis of renewed talks with the Palestinians.
Arab regimes led by Egypt and the wealthy Gulf sheikhdoms have signaled their desire to publicly change their posture toward Israel, Channel 10 added. Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.