US Jewish Leaders Meet With El-Sisi in Egypt, Following Talks With Turkey’s Erdogan
US Jewish leaders met in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Thursday, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations delegation was led by executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein, whom the news outlet described as “close” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The group spent more than two hours in talks with the Egyptian leader.
Participants said Sisi carried a positive message, saying he was committed to the ongoing existence of common interests between Egypt and the US.
According to a press release by the Conference of Presidents, the meeting “covered a wide range of domestic and international issues, including US-Egyptian and Israeli-Egyptian relations, regional threats, especially those posed by terrorist organizations and their supporters, and Iran post-JCPOA,” the nuclear deal the Islamic Republic reached with world powers last July.
“The Jewish leaders said that they had an open and very productive discussion and that they were impressed by the president’s analysis on a wide variety of issues,” according to the statement.
The delegation met with el-Sisi a few days after landing in Ankara to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu — reportedly the first such meeting since Israeli-Turkish relations began to deteriorate about seven years ago. The delegation was accompanied by the heads of the Turkish Jewish Community, led by Ishak Ibrahimzadeh.
According to the Conference of Presidents, “President Erdogan outlined eight of his policy priorities, including the issue of energy and potential for regional cooperation involving Israel as well.”
Israeli and Turkish officials have intimated over the last couple of months that the two countries were close to ending the bilateral standoff precipitated by the Israeli military’s raid of a Turkish ship that was attempting to penetrate the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza in 2010, which resulted in the deaths of 10 Turkish activists.
Still, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Thursday, there were still obstacles to overcome before a full resumption of ties, including Turkey’s ongoing support of Hamas through the Muslim Brotherhood and its hosting of Hamas leaders in Istanbul. Last month, Ya’alon said ISIS was “enjoying Turkish money for oil,” echoing Russian complaints.
Hoenlein has met with other leaders in the Arab world in the past, such as Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2011, shortly before the beginning of the unrest that spiraled into the civil war that has been raging for years.
At the time, reports surfaced that he had been asked by Netanyahu to deliver a message to Assad — as Syria and Israel are technically still at war. However, Hoenlein denied the reports and said he was invited by Assad himself, according to Haaretz.
The Conference of Presidents mission is next headed to Israel.