Al-Sisi urges Palestinians under occupation to ‘coexist’ with Israelis

Speaking a day after his first public meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Al-Sisi urged Palestinians to be “ready to co-exist” with Israelis in his UN speech.

Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday said an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal was a “necessary precondition for the entire region” to enjoy stability, in his address to the United Nations, calling on Palestinians to live peacefully with Israelis.

Speaking a day after his first public meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Sisi urged Palestinians to be “ready to co-exist” with Israelis.

Departing from his prepared remarks to the UN General Assembly, Sisi said he wanted to “tell the Palestinian people, it is important to unite … to overcome the differences and to be ready to accept co-existence with the other, with Israelis, in safety and security.”

Egypt has been leading mediation efforts between Palestinian political rivals Fatah and Hamas, hosting Hamas’ new leader Ismail Haniyeh earlier this month for talks on ending the Egyptian-Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Al-Sisi made similar appeals to Israel, saying that decades of Israeli-Egyptian peace since a treaty in 1979 could be expanded to Palestinians to “overcome the barrier of hatred forever.”

“We can repeat this experience, this excellent step once again, together with the peace and security of the Palestinian citizens,” he said.

The Egyptian leader said an “independent Palestinian state” with East Jerusalem as its capital is “a necessary precondition for the entire region to transit into a new phase of stability and development.”

A comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal would also eliminate “one of the main excuses” used by terrorists in the region, he argued.

Addressing the United States, where President Donald Trump has been pushing for renewed negotiations, Al-Sisi declared that there was an “opportunity to write a new page in history to achieve peace in this region.”

Al-Sisi, a general who first came to power through a military coup, is seen as one of the most friendly Egyptian presidents to Israel, and Israeli officials say their country now has unprecedented levels of cooperation with Cairo.

The meeting between Al-Sisi and Netanyahu on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly followed a phone call between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, their first discussions in over a year.

The Palestinian national movement has been split since 2007 following Hamas’ election victory a year earlier as Fatah-aligned figures attempted to oust the elected government from power.

Bitter fighting effectively saw Fatah routed from Gaza, while the Palestinian Authority and Israel cracked down on Hamas in the West Bank.