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Sisi prepared to send troops to Palestine

Egypt is prepared to send troops to help secure a future Palestinian state, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in an interview with an Italian newspaper.

Speaking to Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, ahead of his first European trip, Sisi affirmed the country’s preparedness to send military troops to assist local police in Palestine and “reassure Israel of our role in guaranteeing peace.”

“It’s not a permanent solution of course, but we will be present for as long as it takes to restore trust,” he added. Sisi said the proposal follows dialogue with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the head of the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas. However, he didn’t mention the position of the two leaders regarding military intervention.

The proposal comes after the recent 50-day military operation against Gaza, which resulted in over 2000 casualties among Palestinians. Egypt was criticized for closing the Rafah border crossing for most of the assault, hindering the passage of humanitarian aid to the strip. The Egyptian military has also destroyed the majority of the smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt and Palestine over claims that they’re being used to smuggle arms into the Peninsula.

Sisi, who is set to visit Italy and France this week, will meet with Pope Francis on Monday to discuss the situation of Christians and other minorities in the region. The relationship between Al-Azhar, the main Sunni theological center in Egypt and the Roman Catholic church witnessed some turbulence when former Pope Benedict XVI claimed not enough was being done to prevent the persecution of Christians in Egypt. Since then, a number of incidents of sectarian strife were reported, including attacks on churches and the displacement of Copts.

Regarding the situation in Libya, Sisi told the newspaper that the international community needs to make a clear and collective decision that will benefit “a national Libyan army,” in light of the “current chaos” and the emergence of “extremely dangerous jihadi groups.”

Sisi added that the Libyan army needs to be provided with aid, equipment and training. He denied previous allegations that Egyptian Armed Forces carried out military operations inside the Libyan borders.

Egypt has denied any role in air strikes alongside the UAE in Libya since August. Allegations of involvement were made by a Libyan militant group, “Operation Libya Dawn,” who accused Egypt of targeting certain locations in Tripoli, resulting in the death of 10 militants and injuring several others.