Mubarak: Israel canceled Shalit deal at last minute
In exclusive Yedioth Ahronoth interview, Egyptian president blames Jewish state for failure of talks at end of Olmert's tenure as prime minister, which he says led Hamas to toughen its demands. He expresses his confidence, however, that matter will be resolved soon
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak believes Gilad Shalit will return home soon. Speaking in an exclusive interview to Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent Smadar Peri, published Friday, he blames Israel for the failure of the talks aimed at securing the kidnapped soldier's release which were held at the end of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's tenure.
"You could have finalized the Shalit deal four or five months ago," the Egyptian president says. "A number of conditions were set for a deal and we were already on the verge of finalizing and executing the first stage, but at the last minute you changed your mind at once, and the whole thing died. You caused the other side to toughen its stand and demand more prisoners."
According to Mubarak, whose country is the chief negotiators in Israel's indirect negotiations with Hamas for a prisoner exchange deal, "I really believe the matter is about to be resolved soon, but I cannot commit to an exact date."
And what about Shalit's condition? "As far as I know," the Egyptian president says, "Gilad Shalit's condition is good, he is treated well and is safe and sound. The moment a deal is reached he will be handed over to us in Egypt, until Israel releases all the Palestinian prisoners. When this happens, Shalit will return home."
In the interview, Mubarak also warns Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will not accept a compromise on a Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state.
"Don't you have Arab citizens in Israel?" he asks. "You want to turn Israel into a Jewish state only? That's very bad. I'm telling you, it's a serious mistake which will harm you.
"A Jewish state will become the target of all terrorists. An open state, on the other hand, is a different matter. Look at us in Egypt: We have Muslims, Christians, Copts and Jews."