CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Wednesday the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem will cause “some instability” in the region, in his first public comments on the issue.
Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday when the high-profile opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem by President Donald Trump’s administration raised tensions to boiling point after weeks of anti-Israeli demonstrations.
“On the move of the U.S. Embassy, we have said this issue will have negative repercussions on Arab and Islamic public opinion and lead to a kind of dissatisfaction and some instability, and will have repercussions on the Palestinian cause,” Sisi, a U.S. ally, said in televised remarks at a youth conference.
Egypt, the most populous Arab country and longtime mediator in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, has condemned the deaths of Palestinians but avoided direct criticism of the United States following the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
“I urge the Israelis to understand that the reactions of Palestinians over this issue are legitimate and that (they) are dealt with in a way that takes great care for the lives of Palestinians.”
Israel said Wednesday that Palestinian protests on the Gaza-Israel border have dropped off dramatically, citing what it said were Egyptian efforts to restore calm. Gaza’s dominant Islamist Hamas movement, has denied any pressure from neighbouring Egypt to scale back the six-week-old demonstrations.
Separately, Sisi called for countries to resolve disputes peacefully, citing grave conditions in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
“The region cannot withstand any more wars,” he said.
Sisi also said more time was needed to resolve a dispute with Addis Ababa over a $4 billion (2.97 billion pounds)-hydroelectric dam it is building on the Nile. He said he had invited Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to visit Cairo for more talks on the issue.
“Negotiations with our brothers in Sudan and Ethiopia will require effort and time from [all sides] so we can come to the terms and reach an understanding that allows us to maintain our share (of the Nile’s water) and allow them to benefit from the dam for the development that they seek.”
Egypt fears the project will reduce waters that run to its fields and reservoirs from the Nile river in Ethiopia’s highlands and via Sudan.
Reporting by Ali Abdelaty and Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Gareth Jones, Richard Balmforth