As Sisi asks for US help on GERD, American Jews ask for Sisi’s help to release Gaza captives

Sisi has asked the US to pressure Ethiopia to reach an agreement with Egypt on the Ethiopian dam on the Blue Nile during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington. Meanwhile, two prominent Jewish American leaders who have met with Sisi during his visit to US, asked him to help release the Israeli captives held by Hamas in Gaza.

Egypt’s Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has asked the US to help pressure Ethiopia to reach an agreement with Egypt regarding the Renaissance Dam, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the importance of reaching a diplomatic solution between all parties.

Meanwhile, two Jewish American leaders, William Daroff and Dianne Lob met with Sisi on Thursday and discussed issues regarding Israel-Egyptian relations and the relationship with the US as well as the Israeli captives in Gaza.

William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the chair of the organization Dianne Lob met Sisi and shortly afterward shared a statement. “Dianne and I just left a very productive and engaging communal meeting with Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” Daroff stated in a press release.

“The meeting, which was scheduled for 60 minutes, but continued for nearly 100 minutes, focused on issues of mutual interest, including the relationships between Egypt, the United States and Israel, as well as regional security issues.”

Daroff specifies that the two stated their “unequivocal appreciation to Sisi for his leadership in ensuring a safe, secure, and stable region,” and also thanked him for “safeguarding and enhancing the peace and security cooperation between Egypt and Israel.”

Daroff said that he personally raised the issue of the Israelis who are being held captive by Hamas in Gaza, “Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed and the bodies of two soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, and reiterated the importance of their return to the American Jewish community.”

Daroff concluded by stating his and the American Jewish communities’ “support for highlighting to the Biden Administration and Congressional leaders the importance of US financial and military assistance to Egypt as a means of safeguarding American national security.”

In addition, Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with the Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Khaled Azmi on Thursday.

“We discussed the deep connection between Israel and Egypt and the various issues that we have promoted for the stability of the region in the last two and a half years,” Gantz said in a statement on his behalf. “Egypt is an important partner and friend of Israel and I hope that our peace and security relations will continue to strengthen and expand.”

Sisi seeks US help on GERD

On his part, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, during his visit to Washington to attend the US-Africa summit, asked the US to help pressure Ethiopia to reach an agreement with Egypt regarding the Renaissance Dam. Meanwhile US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the importance of reaching a diplomatic solution between all parties.

On the sidelines of his visit to Washington to attend the US-Africa summit, Al-Sisi raised the Renaissance Dam file with Blinken and noted: “This is a very vital and existential matter to us.”

He added: “Reaching a legally binding agreement can achieve something good in accordance with international standards and norms. We are not asking for anything other than that. We need your support on this matter.”

The US State Department shared in a statement after the meeting that Blinken: “Stressed the importance of reaching a diplomatic settlement that protects the interests of all parties.”

It added that the US Secretary raised with Al-Sisi the issue of respect for human rights in Egypt, emphasising: “Bilateral relations become stronger with tangible progress in this field.”

Blinken reiterated his country’s commitment to the strategic partnership between the US and Egypt and praised Egypt’s successful hosting of the COP 27 climate conference, according to the US State Department.

The dam on the Nile River – which costs $4.2 billion and will be the largest in Africa – is a source of tension between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.

Egypt, which relies on the river for 97 per cent of its irrigation and drinking water, fears the dam will reduce its already scarce water supplies.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had promised to continue talks on the dam but proceeded with the plan to fill and operate the first turbines.

Since the project was launched in 2011, the Renaissance Dam has sparked a diplomatic dispute between Sudan and Egypt, which depend on the Nile for their water resources.

The administration of former US President Donald Trump, a close ally of the Egyptian army commander who became president of the country, sought to mediate and reach a solution and cut off aid to Ethiopia after accusing Addis Ababa of not dealing with the file in good faith.

As for the administration of President Joe Biden, it follows an approach that is more focused on diplomacy and does not link aid to the issue.

However, the Biden administration’s relations with Ethiopia have been strained over concerns about human rights violations in the war against militants in the Tigray region, which ended after a peace deal was concluded last month.

Upon assuming office, Biden distanced himself from Al-Sisi due to concerns about Cairo’s human rights record, but he welcomed the role played by his Egyptian counterpart in brokering a ceasefire last year in the Gaza Strip and Egypt’s hosting of the United Nations Climate Summit last month.