Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has visited Egypt for talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
t was the first official visit by an Israeli premier since 2010, when then-president Hosni Mubarak hosted a summit with Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Less than a year later, Egypt was rocked by a popular uprising that toppled Mr Mubarak.
Mr Bennett and the Egyptian president discussed bilateral relations, reviving the Israel-Palestinians peace process and other regional and international developments, according a statement issued by Mr el-Sissi’s office.
The statement said Mr el-Sissi stressed his support for “all efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution”.
The Israeli premier, in a statement following the meeting, thanked Mr el-Sissi for Egypt’s role in preserving the security and stability in the Gaza Strip and its help with Israeli missing and captives from the conflict.
He also said the longstanding relationship between Egypt and Israel was a foundation for Israel’s recent accords with other Arab nations.
Over nearly a decade, Israeli officials have held covert meetings with their Arab counterparts, some of which were only announced after the fact. Egypt in 1979 was the first Arab country to reach a peace agreement with Israel.
The meeting was a boost for Mr Bennett, who took office in June and is still trying to establish his foreign-policy credentials. His predecessor, Mr Netanyahu, billed himself as a global statesman but never was able to hold a public meeting with the Egyptian president.
Egypt and Israel have often found themselves on the same side of a wider regional conflict with rivals Iran and sometimes Turkey. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians would give Iran and Turkey one less conflict to exert their influence.
Israel, with Egypt’s help, has maintained a tight blockade over Gaza since the Palestinian militant group Hamas overran the territory in 2007 in an effort to prevent it from importing weapons.
Israel and Hamas have fought four wars, most recently in May, and Egypt often serves as a mediator between the two enemies. In the last war, it successfully brokered a ceasefire that brought the fighting largely to a stop.
Egypt has been trying to broker a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but those efforts appear to have run into trouble in recent weeks.
Hamas has demanded a lifting of the blockade, which has devastated Gaza’s economy. Israel wants Hamas to free two captive Israeli civilians and to return the remains of two dead soldiers killed in a 2014 war.
With conditions deteriorating in Gaza, Hamas has grown increasingly impatient. In recent weeks, it has staged a number of violent demonstrations along the Israeli border and launched dozens of incendiary balloons across the frontier, setting off a series of wildfires in southern Israel.