Former Egyptian foreign minister says Netanyahu has 'clear lack of interest' in peace

Nabil Fahmy 'not particularly optimistic' about next Israeli government after former PM returns to power

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , November 14  ��� 2018 :-  Nabil Fahmy , Founding Dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt speaking during the session on ���Diplomatic Training in the 21st Century��� at the Diplocon , Abu Dhabi Diplomacy Conference 2018 held at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News. Story by Gill Duncan / Daniel Sanderson
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Egypt's ties with Israel will be affected by the way the next government under Benjamin Netanyahu deals with the Palestinian issue, former Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy said on Friday.

Mr Netanyahu's return to power in Tuesday's election will entail forming a coalition with extreme right-wing politicians such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, who take a more hardline approach towards Palestinians than members of the current government under centrist politician Yair Lapid.

"I think Egypt's relations under Bibi will be the same as they were the first time, but will be negatively affected by Netanyahu's clear lack of interest in a peace process that involves Palestinians and Israelis," Mr Fahmy said, referring to Mr Netanyahu by his nickname.

He was speaking to The National on the sidelines of an event organised by the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi.

Egypt-Israel relations "could be affected even more if the extreme right in the coalition pushes aggressive annexation policies and so on", Mr Fahmy said.

"I'm not particularly optimistic, to cut my answer short and be very diplomatic in my terms."

Unlike Mr Netanyahu, Mr Lapid was "less confrontational" in his approach, Mr Fahmy said.

"While he was not aggressively pursuing a peace process, he was not provocative in his actions."

This year has so far been deadlier for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem than the past seven years, with 130 deaths caused by Israeli forces.

“The time has come for a terrorist who goes out to carry out an attack to be eliminated," Mr Ben-Gvir wrote in a Tweet on Thursday in response to a reported stabbing in East Jerusalem by a Palestinian who was shot dead by two Israeli forces.

Mr Fahmy said Mr Lapid was "less angry" in the way he referred to Palestinians in comparison with some members of Mr Netanyahu's coalition.

"Some of the terminology verged very closely on racism," Mr Fahmy said.

The Arab League expressed solidarity with the Palestinians in the closing statement of its summit in Algeria this week, the group's 31st annual meeting after a three-year break following the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020.

Mr Fahmy said he was "not satisfied" with the outcomes of the meeting despite being "extremely happy" that the summit convened.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, left, and Arab League Secretary Ahmed Aboul Gheit arrive for the opening of the Arab summit in Algiers on November 1, 2022.  AFP

"I consider it as a first step in a direction. I accepted it as a first step because they convened, but the direction wasn't very clear," he said.

"That they repeat traditional positions is a minimum, that is not enough ... I would've wanted them to give us a projection about the future — what they want to do in dealing with the challenges looking forward."

Speaking about the Cop27 climate conference taking place in Egypt from Sunday, Mr Fahmy said "excessive materialism at the expense of our future" was a major issue.

"Developed countries took advantage of the world as a whole and developed their economies using energy resources all over the world at the expense of the environment. We need to move towards a collective conscience and collective interest.

"The developed world needs to pay the developing world for opportunity lost and the cost of environmental degradation and it needs to help us shift from raw material technologies to smarter, sustainable energy sources, which costs money," he said. "We can't do it without developing the economy and we have to do it now at rapid pace because of the pollution that they caused."

Updated: November 04, 2022, 5:58 PM
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