Peres asks Mubarak help to revive Mideast peace efforts; Mubarak: Palestinians can continue attack for another 15 years
Visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said in Cairo on Monday that Israel expects Egypt to help sort out differences between Israel and the Palestinians to push forward the Mideast peace process.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that Israel should start negotiating immediately with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's emissaries. He added that Arafat himself should not pose a problem for Israel, since the talks would be held between envoys of both sides, and not the leaders themselves.
In a conversation with Israeli correspondents who accompanied Peres on his trip to Cairo, Mubarak said that since Sharon government took power, Israel does not have "a vision, a peace plan or a solution."
The Palestinians would be able to continue their struggle for another 15 years, Mubarak added, saying that their suicide attacks were proving highly effective. The Egyptian leader added that while his country does not have a peace plan of its own, he was willing to do everything he could to advance the cause of peace.
Peres told his host that Israel expects Egypt to help work out differences between Israel and the Palestinians and to push forward the Mideast peace process.
It is impossible for Israel and the Palestinians to overcome the current crisis without Egypt's help and intervention, Peres said during a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, after talks with Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.
For his part, Maher said "the Palestinian territories have still been occupied by Israeli forces, which subjects the Palestinian people to closure and humiliation -- a result of actions clearly condemnable and not conducive to a solution of the problem."
"When we speak about the violence, one should not forget the violence of a strong army using weapons against a civilian population," Egypt's top diplomat said. "... It is very clear that what has happened to the Palestinians by the Israeli army and sometimes by the (Jewish) settlers is certainly something that we have strongly condemned," he stressed.
Maher added, "That is why, as Peres mentioned, we discussed the situation and our differences. It is not a secret that we do have differences in the assessment of the situation on the root cause of what is prevailing now."
Earlier, it was reported that Egypt was expected to urge Israel to immediately leave Palestinian areas as a step toward reviving Mideast peace efforts. Maher said Sunday that Egypt would use the meeting to deliver a clear message to Israel about what it must do to achieve peace.
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)