Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is taking a number of negative steps, which undermine the peace process and hurt the prospects of political negotiations, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in interview published in the Egyptian newspaper Roz al-Yusuf Tuesday morning.
The Egyptian president was sworn in for the fifth time Tuesday in a festive ceremony in the parliament. On Wednesday, Mubarak is expected to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo.
Mubarak said in the interview that “Sharon is trying to strengthen the perception of a long-term intermediate resolution. He is demanding that the Palestinian Authority dismantle the organizations’ weapons before implementation of the Road Map, and is simultaneously expanding settlements, particularly in the Jerusalem area.”
“These are all negative steps that are thwarting peace contacts undermining negotiations. These steps are gradually closing the doors to a chance of establishing a Palestinian state,” Mubarak added.
The Egyptian president said that in order to revive the process he plans to accelerate the Egyptians’ contacts with the Americans and with the other members of the international Quartet to ensure the renewal of political negotiations as soon as possible and “in order not to lose the political momentum provided by the withdrawal from Gaza”.
‘Egypt will assist Palestinian Authority’
Mubarak made it clear that he sees the withdrawal as an important step.
“Any Israeli withdrawal from any part of the occupied Arab territories is considered to be a profit for the Arabs and Palestinians, because this plan included the dissolving and evacuation of settlements,” he said.
The Egyptian president added that “The plan puts challenges before the Palestinian Authority, which is obliged to impose order on the security front and prove its ability to maintain order, so as not to provide Israel with excuses that the Palestinians cannot take responsibility if Israel withdraws from other areas”.
According to Mubarak, Egypt will continue to be in contact with all Palestinian organizations in order to ensure the continuation of the relative lull in violence and the implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings.
“Egypt will assist the Palestinian Authority and its institutions and will continue to assist in the training of Palestinian security
forces so that they can fulfill their obligations. Simultaneously, we will act on the political level in order to renew the implementation of the Road Map toward the establishment of a Palestinian state in the ’67 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, and will do this through negotiations on the permanent agreement,” Mubarak said.