Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi voiced confidence Monday in President Donald Trump’s ability to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“You, Mr. President, can find a solution,” Sissi told Trump during their meeting in Washington Monday, according to The Times of Israel. In language reminiscent of Trump, the Egyptian president added that brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians would be “the deal of the century.”
Trump, who rose to power largely by touting his deal-making prowess, told The New York Times in November that he would “love” to resolve the intractable Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“I would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians,” Trump said. “I would love that, that would be such a great achievement. Because nobody’s been able to do it.”
The President had nothing but praise for Sisi during Monday’s meeting, assuring the Egyptian leader that he has a great friend and ally in the United States and in Trump himself.
“I just want to let everybody know that we are very much behind President Sissi. He has done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation,” Trump said.
Some have been critical of Trump’s unabashed warming to a president like Sisi, an authoritarian who seized power in a 2013 military coup.
Trump won’t shake hands with Merkel, a democratic ally, praises el-Sisi, a murderous tyrant. Personal affinity!
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) April 4, 2017
“The authoritarian bargain the U.S. has struck with Egypt might seem to be the right thing, but it never pays off in the long run,” Amy Hawthorne, the deputy director of research for the Project on Middle East Democracy, told The New York Times. “It’s not just about being on the wrong side of history, but about over-investing in a regime that is fueling radicalization that will ultimately harm U.S. interests.”
The meeting was also derided by economist Paul Krugman, a stalwart Trump foe who suggested in January that the President was “obviously mentally ill.”
“Trump won’t shake hands with Merkel, a democratic ally, praises el-Sisi, a murderous tyrant,” Krugman tweeted, in what sounded like a parody of Trump’s trademark style. “Personal affinity!”
Sisi, for his part, appeared delighted by the warm welcome from Trump after being given the cold shoulder under the Obama administration.
“This is my first state visit to the United States since my inauguration,” Sisi said Monday, “and this is the first visit in eight years for an Egyptian president to the United States.”