by Marwa Yahya
CAIRO, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- The latest summit between Egyptian and Israeli leaders is a strong push for consolidating ties between the two neighboring countries, political analysts in Egypt said.
In Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday. He was the first Israeli prime minister to visit Egypt since 2011.
Also on Monday, Israel lifted the travel restrictions on citizens visiting the Sinai Peninsula just days ahead of Sukkot, a popular period for the travel destination.
On Tuesday, one day after the summit, Egypt's flag carrier EgyptAir announced that it will reopen direct flights between Cairo and Tel Aviv in October.
The positive signals have shown that Bennett's visit is an essential thrust for strengthening the ties between the two countries, said Tariq Fahmy, a professor of political sciences at Cairo University, adding that the summit gives momentum to the bilateral cooperation, both on economic and political aspects.
During the summit, the two sides underlined the importance of improving the trading of natural gas. In a bid to build itself as a regional energy hub, Egypt began in January 2020 to import natural gas from Israel. Liquifying the gas in Egypt's plants, the Arab country then exported it to European countries. The deal, signed for 15 years, is worth 19.5 billion U.S. dollars and is one of the largest economic deals between the two countries.
"The bilateral relations are strong and stable, and have been developing via Qualified industrial Zone (QIZ) agreement, regional cooperation and security agreements," added Fahmy, who is also the chairman of the Israeli Studies Unit with Cairo-based Middle East Studies Center.
The QIZ agreement referred to a tripartite deal signed by Egypt, Israel, and the United States in 2004. It allows unlimited duty-free export of Egyptian goods to the United States as long as they contain at least 10.5 percent of Israeli input.
In addition to the economic ties, the constant political dialogue between Egypt and Israel also helps to keep the regional stability and balance.
Egypt is the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel and often mediated negotiations between Israel and Palestine. During Monday's summit, Sisi confirmed Egypt's support for all efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Fahmy said Egypt's role as a key mediator also plays a big part in the bilateral ties, adding that the Egyptian side had made a real and serious contribution to the security and stability of Isreal and the region.
Noting that Bennett's visit came only ten days after a tripartite meeting among Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian leaders that focused on reviving the peace process and resuming negotiations between Israel and Palestine, Fahmy said Cairo is actively trying to facilitate the negotiations between the two rivalries.
Samir Farag, an Egyptian military expert, agreed with Fahmy's view and said that Egypt's relationship with Israel can help solve the Palestinian issue.
Farag, also the former director of the Morale Department in the Egyptian Defense Ministry, told Xinhua that Egypt's influence in the region grows after it successfully helped to reach a cease-fire between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza and Israel.
"The stability of the peace accord between Egypt and Israel for the past long years mirrored the strategic, military, and political willing of both sides," Fahmy said. Enditem