In an exclusive interview aired Friday night on Israel’s Channel One television which was also broadcast in Egypt, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Israel that its policies toward the Palestinians are sowing hatred for that country throughout the entire Arab world.
According to the Egyptian leader, an entire generation of Arabs will learn to hate Israel if the current situation continues for another ten to fifteen years. "How will you contend with 400 million people," he asked. Mubarak noted the role of the satellite television and other media channels in exposing Arabs to the policies carried out by Israel.
Asked about coming to Israel to speak directly to the Israeli people, Mubarak said that in view of the killing that is going on, currently it was not the right time for him to visit Israel.
He said that he sympathizes with the Palestinians as well as with the "unarmed Israeli citizens killed in terror attacks."
In addition, Mubarak warned Israel not to consider transferring the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Jordan. According to Mubarak, such an act would pose the biggest threat to Israel's existence. "I am warning you. You will be in great danger," he conveyed. "Don't even consider such a thing." "It's the advice I'm giving you." he said.
Mubarak made clear that without Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, there would be no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He criticized Israel's attempts to bring about a change in leadership in the Palestinian Authority.
"No one could lead the Palestinian nation after Arafat," Mubarak expressed. He continued to say that whoever replaces Yasser Arafat would not be able to make more concessions in negotiations because the Palestinian people would then brand him a traitor.
Mubarak emphasized that peace with Israel was also a strategic goal for the Arab people. He said that the starting point for achieving this goal is for the sides to sit down together and discuss issues openly and flexibly. He claimed that a solution to all problems exists, including a solution to the refugee problem to which both sides agreed, however did not provide further details.
With regards to the Camp David negotiations, Mubarak stated that they had failed because Israel demanded sovereignty over the Temple Mount. "No Muslim will agree to such a thing," he said. He went on to say that had former U.S. President Bill Clinton's term not ended in January 2001, Israel and the Palestinians would have reached an agreement at the negotiations held in Taba, at the end of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's term in office.
Regarding the situation on Israel's northern border, Mubarak said that the Syrians are not interested in "igniting" the region. "I do not see the Hizbullah bombing Israeli cities," he said and noted that in any case, Cairo would be willing to assist in stabilizing the situation.
Mubarak downplayed some recent controversy over a Saudi peace initiative. "A comprehensive peace is not very different from "normalization." These are terms which are formulated for one reason or another," Mubarak said.
In a separate matter, Mubarak said that the expected U.S. attack on Iraq was not Israel's affair, and that he, as well as the rest of the Arab nations, would review the issue with the United States, "I have not heard Saddam Hussein say that he intends to attack Israel. His concern with Israel is in regard to the plight of the Palestinians," Mubarak commented. (Albawaba.com)
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