Egypt leader El Sisi urges Israel against stirring tension in call with Netanyahu

Leaders spoke days after Israel's new Cabinet made settlement construction in the occupied West Bank a priority

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) during their meeting as part of an effort to revive the Middle East peace process ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017 in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has urged Israel’s new hardline government to refrain from “any measures” that could inflame regional tension.

Mr El Sisi's remarks were made on Sunday during a phone call in which he congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his return to office.

The leaders spoke days after Mr Netanyahu’s new Cabinet was sworn in, promising in its coalition guidelines to make settlement construction in the occupied West Bank a top priority.

Mr El Sisi stressed “the necessity of avoiding any measures that could lead to a tense situation and complicate the regional scene”, his office said.

He also said Cairo would continue its efforts to “maintain calm” between Israel and the Palestinians, it said.

The Israeli Prime Minister's office said the two leaders discussed Egyptian-Israel ties and stressed on “the importance of promoting peace, stability and security for the sake of both peoples and for all peoples in the Middle East”.

Mr Netanyahu returned to power on Thursday for an unprecedented sixth term, taking the helm of the most right-wing and religiously conservative government in the country’s 74-year history.

Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank could make tension between Israel and the Palestinians worse and anger the international community.

Most of the world considers settlements built on territories sought by the Palestinians to be illegal and obstacles to peace.

Egypt and Israel reached a peace accord in 1979. Relations have generally been cool between the countries, although security co-operation behind the scenes remains strong.

There have been growing signs of overall co-operation in recent years.

In 2021, Naftali Bennett, Israeli prime minister at the time, met Mr El Sisi in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh, in the first official visit to Egypt by an Israeli prime minister in more than a decade.

The two Middle Eastern countries also signed a deal with the EU in June to increase liquefied natural gas sales to European countries, helping them to reduce their dependence on Russian supplies amid the war in Ukraine.

Egypt has also, for years, served as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.

Israel and Hamas have fought four wars since the militant group seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 — most recently an 11-day conflict in May.

Egypt has been working quietly to arrange a long-term truce.

Updated: January 02, 2023, 9:39 AM