Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara were hosted at the residence of Egyptian Ambassador Khaled Azmi Wednesday evening, in honor of celebrations for Egypt’s National Day.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said the two nations were also celebrating 40 years of peace since the signing of the 1979 peace treaty. He expressed Israel and Egypt’s hopes “to achieve many other things between us and in our region,” saying “We have to understand the historic achievement of having this peace approach now the fifth decade.”
After pointing out that the alliance has “had to weather some storms,” the Israeli leader pointed to the two nation’s shared battle against Islamist extremism, he described as “a storm that is ravishing our region right now and seeks to impose on us an unforgiving, violent creed.”
Netanyahu said that “Egypt and Israel and many others in the region — are fighting this extremism, this violence and this terrorism,” before going on to “commend my friend and colleague, President A-Sisi, for standing strong against this tide of extremism and terrorism.” The Israeli leader added that “it’s not obvious that it is possible in the face of so much and so many assaults to stand firm, but President A-Sisi and Egypt have stood firm, as has our peace. Our peace is the cornerstone, exactly as you said, of peace and stability in the region. We cannot imagine what our region would be without this peace.”
Netanyahu said that he has been “impressed” by the Egyptian President’s leadership, wisdom and insight during many joint discussions on strategies to best meet shared challenges.
With regard to the yet-to-be released White House regional peace plan, Netanyahu said “We have commitments to security, prosperity and peace, and we’d like to see a broader peace.” In a veiled reference to Palestinian rejection of the plan sight-unseen, the Israeli premier urged “Everyone should have an open heart and an open mind to consider the specific proposals when they’re put forward.”
He then highlighted bilateral cooperation aimed at strengthening the economic well-being of both countries, including the flowing of Israeli gas into Egypt, which he said he hopes will soon include other neighboring states.
Since June 30, an experimental trial has been underway to ship natural gas pumped from Israel’s offshore Mediterranean Tamar gas field through the newly-constructed 90 kilometer underwater pipeline to El Arish in the Egyptian Sinai. If all goes as planned, the quantity of exports will be expanded to include reserves from Israel’s Leviathan gas field near the end of 2019, in accordance with last year’s deal to deliver up to 32 BCM from both of Israel’s offshore sites to the Arab Republic over the span of a decade, at a combined price of $15 billion.