Egypt urges US to play 'active' Mideast peace role

Egyptian president says two-state solution is 'only way' to bring stability to Middle East.


Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday urged the United States to help restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, a statement from the presidency said.

The statement came after al-Sisi met Abbas.

Abbas will meet US President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday for talks on reviving the "peace process."

In a statement, al-Sisi said it was "important that the United States returns to play an active role in efforts to resume negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel."

The two "agreed that the two-state solution is the only way to bring stability to the region," it added.

According to al-Sisi, a 2002 Arab peace initiative should be the basis for a comprehensive solution.

The Saudi-led initiative offered normalized relations with Israel in exchange for resolving the decades-old conflict, in which the Fatah-affiliated PA leadership insists Israel give up land in exchange for a promised halt to the murder of innocent civilians.

When Abbas meets Trump on Wednesday it will be the first encounter between the two men, but will follow a series of US contacts with the PA chairman.

Peace talks have repeatedly run aground despite periodic US efforts to revive them, most recently by former US secretary of state John Kerry.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has consistently been willing to negotiate with Abbas. However, "there is no one for Israel to negotiate with" since Abbas insists on setting preconditions which must be fulfilled before he will speak to Netanyahu.

But Abbas, who met in Ramallah recently with CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Trump's special representative Jason Greenblatt, has said Trump is "seriously considering a solution to the Palestinian issue."

Shortly after taking office, Trump alarmed Palestinians by calling into question his administration's support for a two-state solution, a bedrock of US policy.

The PA also pays salaries to imprisoned terrorists and their families. According to reports, Trump will insist the PA cease paying terrorists' salaries.

But he has since warned Israel against "unrestrained" building in Judea and Samaria.