Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh al-Shoukry is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel on Sunday, amid efforts by Egypt to play a prominent role in supporting peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel.
The visit is to come two weeks after al-Shoukry visited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
Al-Shoukry's meeting with Netanyahu is to be the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister to the state of Israel since 2007, according to a statement published by Netanyahu on Sunday.
Spokesperson for Egypt's Foreign Ministry Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement that the visit to Israel today comes in support of the peace process at a crucial historical moment, amid calls by Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi to Palestinians and Israelis to work on achieving a just resolution to ensure the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Abu Zeid said al-Shoukry will discuss a number of regional issues with Netanyahu with a focus on Israeli-Palestinian confidence-building measures, and the activation of international conventions regarding the region.
The statement added that the goal is that Sunday's meetings will lead to the renewal of direct peace negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leadership.
At the start of Israel's weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said of the coming two meetings with al-Shoukry, expected to be held Sunday afternoon and again in the evening, were "import in many ways."
"It is indicative of the change in relations between Israel and Egypt, including al-Sisi's important call to advance the peace process with both the Palestinians and with Arab states."
The meetings are set to come after France's special envoy for its peace initiative traveled to Ramallah on Saturday and met with both the Palestinian president and foreign minister to discuss preparations for an coming multilateral, international peace summit spearheaded by France.
The parallel visits were emblematic of the divergent paths of the Israeli and Palestinian governments to move forward with peace negotiations, as Netanyahu has unilaterally rejected the Palestinian Authority-supported French initiative and instead insists on direct, bilateral negotiations.
Netanyahu has welcomed Egypt's efforts to renew peace talks through restarting the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, however al-Sisi has also maintained his support for the French initiative as a parallel effort.
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