A diplomatic Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo on Tuesday morning headed by the director of Middle East department at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, Aviva Raz-Shechter, according to state-run Al-Ahram, which cited several Israeli newspapers.
The agenda of the visit includes meetings with high-ranking Egyptians officials to discuss the current status of peacekeeping forces in North Sinai as well as President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s recently-launched initiative to revive peace talks between Israel and Palestine.
Israeli Affairs Expert Mansour Abdel Wahab told Daily News Egypt on Tuesday: “The goal of the Israeli delegation’s visit is mainly to discuss Al-Sisi’s call to revive peace talks with Palestine. The foreign ministry’s delegation is not authorised to discuss matters related to security in Sinai or any other related subject.”
Abdel Wahab said that this visit does not signal the approval of Egypt’s leadership regarding the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman—founder and leader of the secular-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party—as Israeli defence minister. Netanyahu nominated Lieberman for this position simply for the sake of forming a national unity government, according to the expert.
Despite Lieberman’s well-publicised hostility during Mubarak’s reign—he said that Israel would bomb Egypt’s High Dam, as well as many other hostile statements about Egypt and the Palestinians— he is not a cause for concern for the Egyptian government as his role as defence minister is not significant.
Abdel Wahab predicated that another goal of the visit is to arrange for an upcoming visit of Netanyahu. The prime minister is looking to meet with Al-Sisi in order to re-launch peace talks with Palestine under Egypt’s auspices, away from French officials who earlier sought to initiate talks.
Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported recently that Egypt is hoping to hold a meeting between Al-Sisi, Netanyahu, and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to re-launch peace talks.
The prime minister’s office has refused to comment on the story Yedioth Ahronoth published, according to a report by Israel National Radio on Tuesday.
The high level of secrecy surrounding this visit was imposed by Egypt and Israel due to the risk of and Israeli political delegation coming to Cairo.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously said he would send troops to Cairo in order to intervene in the siege on the Israeli Embassy following the 25 January Revolution.
Al-Sisi said, in a speech at the launch of infrastructure projects in Assuit, that solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will make the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel “warmer”, adding that Egypt is ready to mediate to end the conflict.
“If we are able to solve the issue of our Palestinian brothers it will achieve warmer peace … I ask that the Israeli leadership allow this speech to be broadcast in Hebrew one or two times as this is a genuine opportunity,” he continued.
Earlier this year, the French government began efforts to host an international conference planned for this summer to restore peace talks between Palestinian and Israeli authorities. It also vowed to recognise a Palestinian state if peace talks failed.
Peace talks stalled following the collapse of a US-led initiative two years ago.