Netanyahu is preparing for an official visit to Egypt

Egypt apparently looking to bolster economic ties after seeing rapid moves by the UAE and Bahrain to boost trade with Israel.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing for an official visit to Egypt in the coming weeks for talks with President El-Sisi with a focus on economic issues, Maariv reported Monday.

Sources in the government told Maariv that the impetus for the trip to Cairo appears to be the spirit of thawing relations with the Arab world following the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Egypt also recently requested to be involved in peace talks between its southern neighbor, Sudan, and Israel.

Officials from both countries are holding preparatory talks ahead of the mission that will focus mainly on strengthening economic relations with Egypt, with which Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979. However, under El-Sisi and his predecessor Hosni Mubarak, relations between the countries stayed cool until Islamic terrorists moved into the Sinai Peninsula and Israel gave permission for Egypt to bolster its military strength there far beyond what is allowed under the terms of the peace agreement.

There has been quiet military cooperation between the countries in the fight against terrorism in the Sinai, but the upcoming trip to Cairo will include bilateral meetings between economic delegations to discuss joint economic projects and the promotion of business relations between the two countries.

Netanyahu has met with Egyptian leaders several times, the first being a trip to Cairo in 1996 during his first term as prime minister for talks with then-President Hosni Mubarak. During the more than two decades since that visit, Egypt has undergone several rounds of upheaval, with Mubarak being deposed and the Muslim Brotherhood elected to power in 2012 only to be overthrown the following year in a military coup led by El-Sisi.

The two leaders have met officially only once in New York City in 2017, when both addressed the United Nations. In May 2018, it was reported that Netanyahu flew to Egypt with a small number of defense advisers and security guards and held a secret meeting with El-Sisi, but he stayed there only for several hours. Government sources say that this time, the trip will be open and deal mainly with economic issues.