Israel’s finance minister today confirmed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in Egypt in May to discuss a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
A spokesman for Netanyahu declined to comment on the meeting after it was first reported yesterday by Israel’s Channel Ten News.
Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to mediate a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas following an increase in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip since the “Great March of Return” protests were launched on 30 March.
The two leaders discussed the easing of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, rehabilitation of its infrastructure and terms for a ceasefire, the Channel Ten report said.
Asked on Israeli Army Radio whether he had known of the meeting, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon replied “Yes”. He added that “everything that will happen in Gaza will be done with Egyptian mediation and involvement.”
More than two million Palestinians are packed into the Gaza Strip, which is experiencing deep economic hardship. The World Bank has described the situation as a humanitarian crisis with shortages of water, electricity and medicine.
Israel and Egypt keep tight restrictions on their border crossings with Gaza, which have reduced the enclave’s economy to a state of collapse.
At least 168 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire in weekly protests along the Israel-Gaza border area. One Israeli has been killed during the same period.