Egypt’s Defense Minister reportedly told his Israeli counterpart that Egypt is committed to its peace accord with Israel.
The call between by Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Israel’s Ehud Barak was initiated by el-Sissi, according to Al-Hayat, a London-based newspaper.
The conversation between the two defense ministers is the highest-level direct contact between the neighboring countries since a popular revolution in Egypt saw the overthrow of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak and the subsequent election of an Islamist-dominated government. Officials on both sides have said there have been constant low-level contacts between the two countries.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, appointed el-Sissi earlier this month.
El-Sissi reportedly phoned Barak recently to calm fears in Jerusalem over Egypt’s military buildup in the Sinai, which Cairo says is needed to root out terrorist elements from the largely lawless peninsula. Al-Hayat quoted an unnamed, senior Egyptian military source as saying that Barak and el-Sessi had reached an agreement on the matter, the details of which are not clear.
El-Sissi met with Morsi after speaking to Barak, according to Al-Hayat.
Earlier this week, Jerusalem sent a letter to Cairo protesting the buildup of tanks, aircraft and rocket launchers in the peninsula, following a terror attack that left 16 Egyptian border police dead in Rafah. Under the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Cairo must coordinate any military maneuvers in much of the peninsula with Israel, which views the demilitarized territory as a buffer zone against a future war with its southern neighbor.