Egypt FM visits Israel after 10-year break

Shoukry last month met Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah and is said to have gained their support on the initiative.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he will meet Shoukry twice on Sunday.

Despite worldwide efforts, including a concerted push in recent years by Secretary of State John Kerry, both sides have rebuffed external pressure to resume talks, each accusing the other of responsibility for the stall. As a peace broker, Egypt would have an advantage in that it is able to speak for a majority of Arab states.

He was referring to the only two successful negotiations thatIsrael held with Egypt and Jordan that led to formal peace.

However, relations cooled over Israel's policies towards the Palestinians, and were further soured after the June 2012 election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as Egyptian president. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Shoukry's visit was aimed at reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

After Sisi's offer, Netanyahu said he would be willing to discuss the Arab peace initiative. US Secretary of State John Kerry was the last American to falter in the 2013-14 Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Egypt, by contrast, is a unique friend, particularly of Israel.

From his part, Netenyahu welcomed the Egyptian initiative and called on Palestinians to follow the courageous example of Egypt and Jordan and enter direct negotiations, considered the only way for achieving peace.

The situation changed since al-Sisi took power, with a new Egyptian ambassador presented his credentials to the Israeli President in place in February.

The two countries have increased coordination in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where Egypt is battling insurgents who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

There was speculation in Israel that it might be preferable to wait for a new USA administration and not sign an MOU with the current one in the hope of receiving a more generous aid package.

Shoukry's trip to Israel is the first such visit since 2007. The statement did not mention the return of Palestinian refugees in exile.

In the wake of a spike in violence in the occupied West Bank and Israel that left two Israelis killed and three Palestinians shot dead in less than 48 hours, Israeli forces have detained scores of Palestinians in nightly raids, and restricted movement for tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians living in the Hebron area. Those territories are where millions of Palestinians live and wish to establish a Palestinian state. The population of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip is just over 12 million, with the number of Jews roughly equal to the number of Palestinians (each around 6.3 million).

Egyptian FM reiterates necessity of two-state solution in rare Israel visit - Politics - Egypt -.

"As with all the previous instances, when allegations were made against the prime minister that turned out to be baseless, nothing will come of this - because there's nothing there", the Israeli media quoted a Netanyahu spokesman as saying.

Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will make the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel "warmer", Al-Sisi said in May, adding that Egypt is ready to mediate to end the conflict.

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