Egyptian president offers peacekeeping force 'for Palestinian state'


Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi has expressed a willingness to send Egyptian troops to a future Palestinian state to prevent attacks on Israel.

Mr Sissi was speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera ahead of a visit this week to Italy and France.

In his interview, he said: "We need to guarantee the security of Israelis, but, at the same time, we must give back hope to the Palestinians, and the best way to fuel this hope is the creation of a Palestinian state."

In order to help achieve that goal, he said: "We are ready to send military troops inside a Palestinian state. They would help local police and reassure the Israelis."

He added that he had already brought up his proposal with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas.

While peacekeeping troops are not needed as the peace process is at a standstill, Mr Sissi's remarks are a further signal of his confidence.

Stationing regular Egyptian soldiers in Palestinian territory has been seen as a deeply unpopular move with the Egyptian public.

Mr Sissi has said in a number of recent interviews that he is in regular contact with Prime Minister Netanyahu, not a fact that Egyptian politicians have in the past been happy to acknowledge.

The joint threat of IS-allied Islamist terrorists in Sinai, as well as a shared antipathy towards Hamas in Gaza and concern over Iran's influence in the region, has drawn the political and military establishments in the two countries closer together, although much of the co-operation is still going on beneath the radar.

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