JERUSALEM, Israel – In his remarks before the UN General Assembly in New York Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said the conditions for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are already known. The parties just need to "reach agreement."
"The final conditions to reach an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians are known," he said. "The perseverance to renew negotiations and to reach agreement is needed here."
The solution, according to el-Sisi, is "the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital."
But el-Sisi is well familiar with the facts on the ground in the Middle East. He knows the Palestinians don't want an Israeli state next to theirs.
The following day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin and el-Sisi held a long, private meeting, looking like best friends as they shook hands.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Photo, GPO, Avi Ohayon
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, last night (Eastern Daylight Time), in New York City, met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The two met for almost two hours and discussed regional developments and the situation in Gaza," Netanyahu's office said in a statement.
Since his election in 2014, the Egyptian president has ordered the destruction of dozens of Hamas smuggling tunnels to preserve his own country's security. He created a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, later doubling it, and he keeps the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt closed most of the time.
Additionally, efforts by Egyptian mediators to create a Palestinian unity government have failed time and again, as has Egypt's periodic ceasefire diplomacy with Israel on behalf of Hamas. It's an endless cycle because the truth is no Palestinian faction is interested in peaceful coexistence.
Jordanian King Abdullah II basically said the same thing in his UN speech.
"Only a two-state solution based on international law and relevant UN resolutions can meet the needs of both sides: an end to conflict, a viable, independent, sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital, and a secure Israel, fully part of its own region, recognized by Arab and Muslim states around the world," he stated.
The king alluded to President Donald Trump's decision to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv, barely masking his displeasure. According to Abdullah, Jerusalem's "historic" identity is Christian and Muslim.
"Above all, we need to safeguard the heritage and peace of Jerusalem, a holy city to billions of people around the world. The Hashemite Custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem is a duty that Jordan is proud to carry, and we will counter any attempts to change the holy city's historic Arab Christian and Muslim identity," he said.
Oddly enough, Egypt and Jordan are the only two countries in the region with peace agreements with Israel. Neither Abdullah nor el-Sisi is naïve about such proclamations. Both understand that the pre-1967 borders are indefensible (that's why the late Abba Eban called them "Auschwitz borders"). They also know Israel will not re-divide Jerusalem as it was during the 19-year Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967. It's a nonstarter for Israel.
Beyond that, neither Hamas nor Fatah is even remotely interested in a peace deal with Israel. That's the glue that holds them together.
One might wonder why these two savvy leaders keep repeating the same mantra and beyond that if they really believe what they're saying.