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November 21, 2017 9:16 am

On 40th Anniversary of Sadat’s Jerusalem Trip, Egyptian Envoy Visits Knesset, Says There Is ‘Real Opportunity’ for Regional Peace

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avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Hazem Khairat and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein meet in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Photo: Edelstein’s Twitter account.

Egypt’s envoy to Israel visited the Knesset on Tuesday to mark the 40th anniversary of the late President Anwar Sadat’s historic trip to Jerusalem that lay the groundwork for the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries.

While at the Knesset, Ambassador Hazem Khairat told Israeli legislators, “There is a real opportunity to open a new page with the Arab neighbors, based on coexistence and mutual understanding for a better future leading to peace.”

After hosting Khairat for a meeting in his office, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein tweeted, “We discussed cooperation between the two countries and talked about bolstering it in the fields of technology, energy, agriculture and security.”

“We also discussed our duty to help the peace process, in hope of bringing the two sides to the negotiating table,” Edelstein continued.

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A year and a half after Sadat’s November 1977 Jerusalem journey, Egypt became the first Arab nation to sign a peace deal with the Jewish state (as part of which the Sinai Peninsula — which had been taken control of by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War — was given back). It was followed by Jordan 15 years later.

Jerusalem-Cairo ties have at times been strained over the years, particularly when there have been outbursts of violence in the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The relationship has steadily improved since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power in 2013, after ousting his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel and Egypt share a number of regional interests — including the containment of Iran and combating ISIS.

Sisi met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September in New York City on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly session.

However, normalization of the relationship with Israel remains a sensitive topic for much of the Egyptian public.

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