Israel's Bennett was not axed from Cairo conference: spox

Israel's Bennett was not axed from Cairo regional conference, spokesperson says
2 min read
01 September, 2021
The Yamina leader's spokesperson said an article claiming Bennett was axed from a summit with the leaders of Palestine, Jordan and Egypt was incorrect.
Bennett's spokesperson has rejected suggestions he was axed from the conference [AFP/Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's team has rejected suggestions he was removed from the list of attendees for a regional conference in Egypt.

The Yamina leader's spokesperson, Matan Sidi, said an article in Asharq Al-Awsat was incorrect to claim Bennett was axed from Thursday's summit in Cairo, which will be attended by the leaders of Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

Sidi explained the Israeli PM is not set for an audience with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

"There was no intention to hold a meeting [with] the PA President and there is no expectation that any such meeting will be held," he said.

However, a visit to Egypt to meet President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi will take place, even though a date has not yet been set.

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Palestine's Ambassador to Cairo Diab Al-Louh revealed on Tuesday that Abbas will arrive in Egypt on Wednesday but did not reveal who the president will meet or how long he will be there for, Anadolu Agency reported.

The ambassador said the trip is happening due to the PA's strong ties with Egypt's Sisi.

Thursday's talks between the PA, Jordan, and Egypt leaders are reportedly aimed at pressing the US to keep the two-state solution alive.

This will include calls for Israel to halt its illegal settlement expansions in the West Bank, the creation of a fully sovereign state in Palestine, and to realise the right of return for millions of Palestinians who lost their homes and became refugees with the creation of Israel.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation Executive Committee's Azzam Al-Ahmad said the conference will work on harmonising the parties' different standpoints before Abbas visits the UN in September, where it is believed he will speak before the General Assembly.

While Egypt, alongside Israel, maintains a devastating blockade of Gaza, it also plays a key role in diplomacy with Palestine, particularly in negotiations between Hamas and Israel.

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Egypt helped arrange a ceasefire between Gaza rulers Hamas and Israel after a deadly 11-day bombing campaign of the besieged Palestinian enclave, which killed 256 Palestinians, including dozens of children.

In Israel, 13 died following rocket fire from Hamas and other militant factions.

Wednesday's latest act of diplomacy between Palestine and Egypt comes as Cairo works on fixing relations with Turkey.

Representatives from these two sides will meet in Ankara next Tuesday and Wednesday for a second round of talks on normalising ties.