Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi held a secret summit in Egypt last May to launch efforts towards a Gaza stabilization deal, U.S. officials told Israel’s Channel 10 News.
The Israeli leader traveled to Egypt on May 22 with a small group of security personnel and advisers. He stayed in the country for a few hours and returned to Israel after midnight. The prime minister’s trip remained confidential and most of Netanyahu’s security cabinet were not briefed on the visit.
The meeting consisted of discussing an easing of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade on Gaza, and the return of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, which is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas.
Hamas reached an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel last week to end a barrage of rocket fire between Gaza and Israel.
Also under consideration were the reconstruction of Gaza’s infrastructure, as well as resolving the issue of civilians and the remains of Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.
El-Sisi reportedly told Netanyahu during the meeting that any solution must include the return of the P.A. to Gaza in order to gradually retake control from Hamas, though the Egyptian leader emphasized full demilitarization of Gaza should not be a precondition.
The leaders also discussed the Trump administration’s long-anticipated Middle East peace plan. Reports confirm that the Trump administration was notified of the meeting.