Mubarak: Peace process must not get hung up on settlement issue

“Concentrate instead on an overall peace deal,” said Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian president in a PBS interview Monday night, Aug 17, before meeting US president Barack Obama Tuesday. “Instead of saying stop more settlements, and we heard this many times, now for over 10 years and (they) never come to a stop, what I can say is that we have to consider the whole issue holistically, to negotiate on a final resolution.”
But the top items of the Egyptian ruler’s crowded agenda for his talks with the US president, debkafile‘s Washington sources report, were the Iranian threat and recognition of his son Gemal Mubarak’s as his successor.
He planned to lay before Obama the tacit collaboration between his government, Israel and Saudi Arabia for thwarting Iran’s efforts to attain a nuclear bomb which the US president has refused to endorse.
Praising Binyamin Netanyahu and his government in the PBS interview, the Egyptian president said he was optimistic about peace but warned that Arab states would recognize the Israel only after a just and comprehensive Middle East peace is achieved, but not before.
He praised President Obama for visiting the Middle East, his speech to Muslims and sending Mitchell before launching a peace initiative. Egypt has a major role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process he said, but admitted that “unless we reconcile the differences between the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, “there will not be stability there; there will not be stability even in Israel. Violence will recur.”
On the negotiations for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit, raised also by the eight Jewish-American leaders the Egyptian president met Monday, he said:
“We were just about to secure his release in our custody and solve this problem, but external interventions, outside interventions hindered that. But we are working on that in collaboration and cooperation with the Germans,” said Mubarak, adding: Where the released hard-core Palestinian prisoners are to settle is still at issue.
Mubarak said Egypt would not be part of the US “defense umbrella” referred to last month by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton as a response to a nuclear-armed Iran, as it would not allow foreign troops or experts on its land. Additionally, such an umbrella would imply tacit recognition of a regional nuclear power, which he said Cairo was opposed to, whether it was Iran or Israel.
For background on Mubarak’s bid for his son, click HERE

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