Egypt's Foreign Minister tells Israel to halt 'unilateral actions'

Sameh Shoukry tells Israel's Eli Cohen that Cairo will continue to shoulder its 'historical responsibility' in supporting peace efforts

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry listens during an interview with The Associated Press at his office, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 21, 2020. Egypt wants the United Nations Security Council to "undertake its responsibilities" and prevent Ethiopia from starting to fill its massive, newly built hydroelectric dam on the Nile River next month amid a breakdown in negotiations, Shukry told The Associated Press on Sunday, accusing Ethiopian officials of stoking antagonism between the countries. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
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A halt to unilateral actions by Israel and the preservation of the legal and historical status quo in Jerusalem would defuse tension and boost efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Egypt's foreign minister told his Israeli counterpart on Thursday.

In a telephone conversation, Sameh Shoukry also pledged to Israel's Eli Cohen that Cairo would continue to shoulder its “historical responsibility” in supporting efforts to end the conflict.

“This requires a halt to unilateral actions that complicate the situation and the necessity of preserving the legal and historical status quo in Jerusalem,” Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid quoted him as saying. “Both will have a direct effect in reducing tension.”

Mr Shoukry also assured Mr Cohen that Egypt would continue efforts to cement the truce between Israel and Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules the Gaza Strip.

He also called for the revival of the long-stalled peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel to “realise the vision of a two-state solution, establish a Palestinian state and achieve stability and comprehensive peace for all the peoples of the region”.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen. AP

Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, ending decades of enmity in which the two nations fight four wars.

Relations, however, have mostly been cool, with Cairo angered over Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

However, the two nations have worked closely together over the past decade in the fields of counter-terrorism and combating human and drug trafficking.

Mr Shoukry's comments on Thursday echoed those made by the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians when they met in Cairo on Tuesday, reflecting deep concern over the policies of Israel's new, far-right government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Updated: January 19, 2023, 4:28 PM