(JTA) — Egypt’s president officially acknowledged for the first time that the Egyptian military is cooperating with Israel in the Sinai Peninsula.
Asked in an interview aired Sunday night on the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” if this is the “deepest and closest cooperation” ever with Israel, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi responded: “That is correct. The Air Force sometimes needs to cross to the Israeli side. And that’s why we have a wide range of coordination with the Israelis.”
Sisi, who came to power in a military coup in 2013, also denied that there are political prisoners in Egypt and rejected claims that hundreds of opposition protesters were killed following the coup.
Cairo asked CBS last week not to air the interview without giving a specific reason. Sisi’s advisers had requested the questions in advance but were refused.
Egypt’s military and intelligence services have worked closely with their Israeli counterparts since the Camp David Accords in 1978. Since coming to power, Sisi has allowed Israeli military aircraft and drones to conduct hundreds of secret airstrikes against Egyptian militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, The New York Times reported.
Egyptian public opinion remains negative toward Israel, which it still considers to be an enemy that was formed on occupied Arab land.
The interview was recorded in New York in September when Sisi attended the United Nations General Assembly.