Egypt ”impressed” by Netanyahu ideas to restart talks with Palestinians
The Israeli prime minister on Tuesday presented Egypt with ideas for restarting Mideast peace talks, impressing his hosts with proposals that go further than past Israeli positions, Egypt's top diplomat told the AP. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit refused to disclose specifics on Tuesday's discussions, but said Netanyahu appears serious about trying to resume negotiations with the Palestinians. "I can't talk about details, but the prime minister was discussing positions that surpass in our estimate what we've heard from them in a long time," Aboul Gheit told reporters. "I can't say that he has come with changed positions, but he is moving forward."
Netanyahu spent nearly three hours of talks with President Hosni Mubarak, his intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, and Aboul Gheit.
Aboul Gheit said Netanyahu gave his hosts the impression that he genuinely wants to get diplomacy moving again, and told The Associated Press that "everything is on the table." At the same time, he said settlement construction must be halted for negotiations to succeed. According to Aboul Gheit, Egypt asked Israel to ease restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and Israel promised to take measures what would ease freedom of movement.
Also on the agenda were Israel's prisoner swap talks with Hamas. On Tuesday, a top Hamas official in Damascus told The Associated Press that the group had rejected Israel's latest offer, and asked the German mediator to go back to Israel for another offer. "Hamas decided to tell the German mediator that they will not to accept this offer," the official said. "We are waiting for another round of mediation."
The official said that Israel is refusing to release 10 senior detainees sought by Hamas.