Israel, Egypt held secret talks over Gaza in May: Report

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi in New York

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly met Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi on May 22 to discuss issues regarding the Gaza Strip, Channel 10 news reported Monday evening.

The sources, primarily senior American officials revealed that Netanyahu and a few advisors flew to Egypt to spend a few hours there. He returned to Israel the same night. The trip was supposedly kept secret even from ministers belonging to the diplomatic-security cabinet.

The officials said that Netanyahu and Sissi discussed Egypt’s efforts to promote a diplomatic solution for Gaza. The solution included restoring the Palestinian Authority to power in Gaza, arranging a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, easing the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the territory and rehabilitating its infrastructure.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman today will meet senior defense officials to discuss whether to ease some of the restrictions Israel has imposed on Gaza. Defense sources said the meeting will discuss the reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza to most merchandise and expanding the waters in which Israel allows Gaza fishermen to fish.

Since Sunday, there hasn’t been any fighting alongside the Gaza border. If this continues, defense officials said, Israel will consider easing additional restrictions.

Earlier last week, foreign officials eported that Israel and Hamas had agreed on a cease-fire through the mediation of Egypt and Mladenov. Israel denied the report.

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