Sep 8, 2021 - World

Israel PM Bennett to make rare public visit to Egypt

Sisi.
Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to travel to Egypt next week for the first public visit by an Israeli prime minister in over a decade.

The big picture: Israel officials speculate that by inviting Bennett publicly so early in his term, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government is trying to signal Egypt's importance in the region to the Biden administration.

Flashback: Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had visited Sisi in secret, and he also met him at the UN General Assembly meeting in 2017.

  • But the last public visit came in 2010 when then-President Hosni Mubarak hosted a summit with Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

What to watch: Other than establishing a personal relationship, the meeting is expected to focus on Gaza.

  • Egypt is engaging both Hamas and Israel to try to stabilize and extend the ceasefire there while also seeking to broker a possible prisoner exchange between the sides.
  • Sisi is also expected to raise Israel’s relations with the Palestinian Authority and the possibility of a political dialogue of some sort with Abbas. Bennett recently publicly ruled out any such talks.

Worth noting: Ahead of Bennett’s visit, Abbas visited Cairo last week for a trilateral summit with Sisi and King Abdullah of Jordan.

  • Sisi also called Israeli President Isaac Herzog earlier this week to convey Rosh Hashanah greetings.
  • Sisi's office released a statement about the call in another sign of Egypt's openness to a more public relationship.
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