Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak rejected calls for tougher action in response to Israel’s offensive in Lebanon, in comments carried by the state-owned press on Wednesday.
“Those who urge Egypt to go to war to defend Lebanon or Hezbollah are not aware that the time of exterior adventures is over,” he told reporters on the flight back from talks with Saudi King Abdullah.
Mubarak stressed that throwing the country into a war would be irresponsible when 73 million Egyptians “need development, services, work and housing.”
“Those who are asking for war will make us lose all of that in a blink,” said Mubarak, quoted by the government Al-Gomhurriya daily. He stressed that he was not ready “to spend the people’s budget on a war... which isn’t their war”.
“The Egyptian army is for defending Egypt only and this is not going to change,” Mubarak added.
Mubarak, King Abdullah agreed to demand immediate ceasefire
Egyptian opposition parties and newspapers have been very critical of the regime’s stance since Israel launched a deadly offensive against Lebanon following the July 12 capture of two its soldiers by Hezbollah militants.
As Egypt marks the 50th anniversary of the Suez Canal nationalisation by Gamal Abdel Nasser, critics have accused Mubarak of being subservient to the West and praised Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for daring to challenge Israel.
Whilst condemning Israel’s killing of Lebanese civilians, Mubarak also criticised Hezbollah “adventurism”, charging that the Shiite guerrilla group risked dragging the entire region into conflict.
Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1979 and has been a major mediator in the region’s crises.
Mubarak and King Abdullah agreed that their countries would demand an immediate ceasefire during an international crisis conference on Lebanon to be held in Rome on Wednesday.
On Tuesday King Abdullah appealed to the world to stop Israeli attacks on Lebanon, saying that if peace moves fail, the Middle East could be engulfed in war.
In a statement read out on state television, the king said: "If the option of peace fails as a result of Israeli
arrogance, then the only option remaining will be war, and God alone knows what the region would witness in a conflict that would spare no one."