The meeting took place as the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran was nearing completion, and Israel and the United Arab Emirates expressed dissatisfaction with American concessions to the Islamic Republic and its proxies.
“The leaders discussed the ties between the three countries on the background of recent developments in the world and the region, and the ways to strengthen [the ties] at all levels,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.
Sisi’s office, however, focused on economic matters in the first public statement from the meeting.
“The meeting dealt with discussions on the repercussions of global developments, especially with regard to energy, market stability, and food security, as well as exchanging visions and views on the latest developments of a number of international and regional issues,” Sisi’s spokesman wrote on Facebook.
Sisi’s office also posted a photo of the three leaders, along with the flags of their countries.
The UAE and Israel have opposed the US move toward removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid released a statement on Friday saying they “find it hard to believe that the IRGC’s designation... will be removed in exchange for a promise not to harm Americans.... We believe the [US] will not abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises from terrorists.”
It has been difficult for the UAE to work with the Biden administration on defense issues and the relationship has deteriorated, the source added.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly canceled a planned trip to the UAE and Saudi Arabia; he is expected to visit Israel in the coming weeks.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declined to take calls from US President Joe Biden to discuss energy issues stemming from US sanctions on Russia, because of their dismay with US policy in the Gulf, The Wall Street Journal reported. Prior to that, the UAE and Saudi Arabia did not sign on to a US-backed UN Security Council resolution last month condemning Russia for invading Ukraine for the same reason.
Israel has continued to try to play an intermediary role since working to convince the UAE to vote in favor of the American UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been repeatedly targeted by the Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels in recent months, and were disappointed with the US response, which they view as too restrained. They are also concerned that the Iran nuclear deal the US is involved in negotiating does not address their security needs.
The US removed the Houthis from its list of foreign terrorist organizations last year.
The US and Iran have been indirectly negotiating in Vienna to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal for the past 11 months. The deal placed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear deal in exchange for the gradual lifting of sanctions. Most of those restrictions expire at the end of 2025. In addition, in recent years, Iran has far surpassed the deal’s 3.67% uranium enrichment limit, enriching to 60% – weapons-grade uranium is enriched to 90% – and has converted some of it to a format that is hard to dilute or transport.
In addition, critics of the Iran deal point out that lifting sanctions on the regime would allow money to flow to the IRGC and its proxies, while it does not limit their malign behavior in the region or Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Bennett and Sisi met in September of last year in Sharm e-Sheikh to discuss bilateral ties on security, geopolitical and economic matters between the neighboring countries.
It was the first public meeting in Egypt between an Israeli prime minister and an Egyptian president in a decade.After the September visit, the prime minister said, “We created a foundation for deep ties in the future,” with a diplomatic source stating a “very important” bond was created between the two leaders.
One of the agreements discussed during the September meeting was a new flight route between Tel Aviv and Sharm e-Sheikh. The route is set to be inaugurated on the intermediary days of Passover, the Prime Minister’s Office announced last week.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.