Netanyahu, Sisi discuss Gaza on sidelines of UN

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met in New York on Wednesday to discuss Gaza and reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, officials said.

During the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours and took place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the two “discussed regional developments and the situation in Gaza”, a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.

In recent months, mass protests along Gaza’s border with Israel have triggered repeated deadly clashes with the army, prompting warnings of the risk of a new conflict.

On Tuesday, the World Bank warned that the Gaza Strip’s economy is in “free fall” as cuts to aid and salaries add to an already crippling Israeli blockade on the Hamas-run enclave.

Gaza lies between Israel and Egypt, which along with the UN has been seeking to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, but those efforts have stalled in recent weeks.

Netanyahu and Sisi also discussed “ways to revive the peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians, a statement from the Egyptian president’s office said.

Sisi told Netanyahu that “a final and just settlement to the Palestinian issue would contribute to providing a new situation in the Middle East,” the statement said.

Both Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas are due to address the UN General Assembly later on Thursday, a day after US President Donald Trump met the Israeli premier and pledged to present a “very fair” Middle East peace plan by the end of the year.

Trump also said explicitly for the first time that he backed a two-state solution to the conflict, a comment that failed to impress either side.

The Palestinians said it flew in the face of his administration’s actions over the past year, while Netanyahu told Israeli journalists he would never relinquish security control over the West Bank.

Egypt is also mediating reconciliation talks between Hamas and Abbas’s secular Fatah movement a decade after a bloody split.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with the Israel in 1979. Netanyahu and Sisi have met on several occasions since the Egyptian leader came to power.

[source_without_link]Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]