Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a weekend newspaper interview that Egypt was willing to lend troops to help secure a future Palestinian state, offering stability for local police and providing an extra level of security reassurance for Israel, reports Reuters.
Sisi is embarking Monday on his first European tour since ousting his Islamist predecessor, Mohammed Morsi. His itinerary includes visits to France and Italy, and will also feature an audience with Pope Francis. He is scheduled to meet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Monday
He made his comments regarding possible troop deployments in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. He said that the creation of a Palestinian state was the best option both for providing a positive future for the Palestinian people and providing security for Israel.
“We are prepared to send military forces inside a Palestinian state. They would help the local police and reassure Israelis in their role as guarantors,” he said.
Sisi suggested that any such troop deployment would last only as long as necessary to restore trust between the sides.
Israel National News reports that Sisi’s office issued a clarification following his interview statement:
“Regarding the statement about the possibility of sending troops from Egypt and the Arab countries to secure a future Palestinian state, these statements were made to encourage Israel to move towards the two-state solution,” said Ambassador Alaa Youssef, according to Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper.
Egypt ruled the Gaza Strip, which would likely be part of any future Palestinian state, from 1948-1967. Israel conquered Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula in the 1967 Six-Day War, and handed back the Sinai to Egypt as part of the Camp David Accords. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Egypt shares a border with Gaza, and also mediated the ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas after this summer’s Gaza war.