CAIRO // Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi promised Israel on Tuesday warmer ties if it accepts efforts to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, urging Israeli leaders not to waste an opportunity to bring security and hope to a troubled region.
In a live televised speech where he addressed the Palestinians and Israelis, Mr El Sisi called on both parties to seize what he described as a realistic and great opportunity to reach a peaceful settlement to their decades-old conflict. He said they need look no farther than the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty to see the positive outcome of peacemaking.
The animosity that existed between Egypt and Israel existed prior to their landmark accord, he said, was no different from how the Palestinians and Israelis feel now.
Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel.
“There is an Arab initiative, there is currently a French initiative, and there are American efforts” to broker an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, he said.
Mr El Sisi also said his country was willing to mediate a reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions in an effort to pave the way toward a lasting peace accord with the Israelis.
“I say to our Palestinian brothers, you must unite the different factions in order to achieve reconciliation and quickly. We as Egypt are prepared to take on this role. It is a real opportunity to find a long-awaited solution,” Mr El Sisi said.
Addressing Israelis and their government, he said there was a real opportunity for peacemaking although some in Israel did not think peace is now necessary given the turmoil in the region.
An Israeli-Palestinian deal, he said, would “give safety and stability to both sides. If this is achieved, we will enter a new phase that perhaps no one can imagine now”.
“I want to say to all those listening, Palestinians and Israelis: Please, there is now a great opportunity for a better future and life and greater hope and stability,” he said. “Should not we seize the chance and move in that framework?”
French president Francois Hollande said on Tuesday an international conference due in late May in Paris to relaunch peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis had been postponed but would take place this summer.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told France’s foreign minister on Sunday that Israel remained opposed to a French initiative for an international conference to try to revive peace talks.
* Reuters, Associated Press and Agence France-Presse