CAIRO: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's official visit to Egypt, the first one in a decade by an Israeli leader, has raised new hopes in the progress of the Palestinian peace process.
Bennett met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and held talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and bilateral ties on Monday.
El-Sisi is reported to have affirmed Egypt's efforts to maintain calm in the occupied Palestinian territories and the importance of international support for rebuilding efforts there, including the two-state solution.
Bennett claimed that the discussions were focused on diplomacy, security and the economy involving both the countries and Palestinian territories.
Bennett's statement that the "talks created a foundation for a deep connection going forward" is viewed as a public display that the ties between Egypt and Israel are alive.
Both the leaders also discussed regional issues, including Iran's influence in the Middle East and the crisis in Lebanon, diplomats and security.
The Israeli Prime Minister Bennett's meeting with El-Sisi is believed to have been a follow-up of a proposal put forth by Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to improve living conditions in Gaza and to build new infrastructure in exchange for a period of calm from Hamas, aiming to solve the "never-ending rounds of violence."
Israel, with Egypt's help, has maintained a tight blockade over Gaza since the Palestinian group Hamas began governing the territory in 2007. There have been four wars or assaults on Gaza by Israel, most recently in May.
In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Relations have been cool over the years, but Egypt has played a key role in mediating ceasefires between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza in various rounds of fighting.