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22 Mar, 2022 08:02

Israeli PM makes ‘surprise visit’ to Egypt – media

The unannounced trip comes days after agreeing to open up new flights between both countries
Israeli PM makes ‘surprise visit’ to Egypt – media

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a “surprise visit” to Egypt to discuss “shared security interests” alongside the UAE’s crown prince, according to officials cited in several media reports.

While Tel Aviv has yet to comment on the purported trip, two unnamed Egyptian security sources told Reuters that Bennett traveled to the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday for trilateral talks with his Egyptian and Emirati counterparts. The report was corroborated by political and diplomatic sources reached by the Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post, and Haaretz.

Bennett, along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, met to discuss “shared security interests, of which there are quite a few, in all their aspects,” one diplomat told the Post. 

Haaretz, meanwhile, reported that the visit was “part of an attempt to form a coalition between countries that were previously considered rivals,” among them Israel and a series of Arab states – “mainly” as a way to oppose Iran.

Bennett and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a joint statement last Friday urging Washington not to lift a terrorist designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which was placed on the sanctions blacklist by former President Donald Trump.

“We find it hard to believe that the IRGC’s designation as a terrorist organization will be removed in exchange for a promise not to harm Americans,” the officials said, asking the United States not to “abandon its closest allies” for such “empty” assurances.

Similar concerns have reportedly been raised by the UAE, with one source based in Abu Dhabi telling the Post that officials are “in great shock” over discussions about removing the IRGC from the terrorism list. Along with Israel and Saudi Arabia, the UAE is one of Iran’s top regional rivals.

Bennett’s reported visit to Sharm el-Sheikh comes just days after Tel Aviv and Cairo agreed to expand direct flights between the two nations, specifically those between Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel and the Egyptian resort town.

“This agreement will further warm the relations between Israel and Egypt,” the PM said at the time, adding that “The cooperation between our two countries is expanding in many fields, and this is contributing… to regional stability.”