Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi received a delegation from the American Jewish Committee, headed by Stanley Bergman, on Monday in Cairo. The meeting was also attended by Egypt’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry.
The American Jewish Committee is one of the most established Jewish advocacy organisations in the United States.
Spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, Alaa Youssef, said the American delegation relayed deep condolences to the president concerning the victims of terrorism in the northern Sinai, stressing their support for the Egyptian people in battling armed insurgencies.
The Sinai Peninsula witnessed a bloody rampage by Ansar Bait al Maqdis, a group affiliated with ISIS, on July 1, in attacks which killed more than a 100 people.
The Egyptian president, along with the members of the American delegation, stressed the pivotal role of Egypt in the Middle East and the immense importance of the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians as a key pillar of security and stability in the region.
Sisi pointed to increasing incidents of violence and terrorism, saying that the phenomenon is no longer limited to the Middle East only, but includes other countries in Africa and relies on false and destructive ideas taken from a disfigured version of Islam as cover.
“The threat of terrorism requires the concerted efforts of the international community efforts to defeat and eliminate it in order to achieve balance in the Middle East, so as to ensure a climate more suitable for security, stability and cooperation, as well as working to eliminate issues exploited by extremist groups to attract and recruit young people, including difficult economic and social conditions”
The Egyptian President encouraged the Israeli leadership to move forward on the path of peace by not standing in the way of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
In terms of US-Egyptian relations, members of the American delegation members said that those relations will remain strategically important and will be strengthened and developed in the future in various political, economic and military fields.
Egypt controls the only inlet to the blockaded Gaza strip, the Rafah border crossing. It is the one remaining passage for humanitarian aid and much needed medical help.
However, Cairo has contributed to the current humanitarian crises in the Gaza Strip by keeping Egypt’s border crossings with the Strip closed.
Gaza’s interior minister, Maher Abu Sabha, told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency that he hopes Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing permanently, adding that 12,000 Palestinian citizens are still waiting to be allowed to travel to Egypt, most of them patients.
Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing in both directions on June 13 for just one week, allowing 3,819 citizens to travel from Gaza to the Sinai peninsula.
The Rafah crossing is dedicated for individuals only, and is currently the only way out of the Gaza Strip for its 1.8 million Palestinian residents.
The Gaza Strip has seen the worst casualties since 2009 in terms of people dying due to the dire humanitarian situation caused by the blockade imposed by Egypt and Israel.
The Rafah border crossing has been mostly closed since the overthrow of deposed president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and as a result of subsequent militant attacks on security and military headquarters in the bordering Sinai Peninsula.
Egyptian authorities have confirmed that the Rafah crossing will be opened again for humanitarian cases in the future.