THE LEVANT – Egypt would be ready to lend a hand in securing a future Palestinian state by sending in troops that could help out local police and offer Israel security guarantees, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a newspaper interview.
Sisi, who is visiting Italy and France this week, told Italian daily Corriere della Sera the creation of a Palestinian state was the best way to protect Israeli security while restoring hope for the Palestinian people.
“We are prepared to send military forces inside a Palestinian state. They would help the local police and reassure Israelis in their role as guarantors,” he said.
Sisi, who is scheduled to meet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Monday, said any such troop deployment would only be for the time needed to restore trust between the sides.
Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, is familiar with some of the territory that would likely make up a future Palestinian state. It ruled the Gaza Strip until the 1967 war.
Sisi said he had spoken at length of the idea with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“I told him (Netanyahu) a courageous step was needed otherwise nothing would be resolved,” he said.
Egypt mediated indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians that led to a ceasefire in August after 50 days of war in Gaza that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis.
The visit to Italy and France is Sisi’s first European trip since the army overthrew elected President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013. Sisi, the former army chief, went on to win presidential elections in May.
Asked about Libya, Sisi said the chaotic situation there was creating the conditions for very dangerous jihadist organisations to take root.
He said NATO had not completed its mission in the country but said he did not believe new military intervention was needed, adding Egypt had not and would not interfere militarily.
“The international community must make a very clear and collective choice in favour of Libya’s national army and no one else,” he said.