January 6, 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in New York, Sept. 18, 2017. (Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
In a "60 Minutes" interview set to air on CBS this weekend, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi confirmed his country's military was working with Israel in the fight against ISIS terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.
"That is correct," he replied when asked if security ties with Israel were the closest they had ever been since the signing of the peace treaty between the once-enemy states four decades ago. "We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis."
According to CBS, after the interview was conducted, Cairo's ambassador to the US requested that it not be broadcast, due to questions Sisi was asked about the human rights situation in Egypt.
Nevertheless, CBS said, the full interview will be shown on Sunday at 7 p.m. (US Eastern time).
Israel's involvement in Egypt's military campaign against ISIS in Sinai was reported by The New York Times last February.
In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to ink a peace deal with Israel (as part of which Sinai — which had been taken control of by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War — was given back), though the relationship has at times been strained over the years, particularly when there have been outbursts of violence in the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ties have steadily improved since Sisi took power in 2013, after ousting his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Israel and Egypt share a number of regional interests — including the containment of Iran and combating ISIS.
However, normalization of the relationship with Israel remains a sensitive topic for much of the Egyptian public.
Sisi met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session in September 2017.