Israeli, Egyptian Leaders to Meet on Mideast Peace Deal

October 22, 2008 at 4:47 am Leave a comment

palestinian-PM.jpgIsraeli President Shimon Peres will discuss an Arab proposal for comprehensive Mideast peace when he meets with Egypt’s leader this week, Peres’ office said Wednesday.

Peres has been promoting the Saudi initiative recently because Israel‘s separate peace talks with Syria and the Palestinians appear to be making little progress.

Peres spokeswoman Ayelet Frisch confirmed the Arab peace plan would “come up” when he meets President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia first
proposed the peace initiative in 2002. It offers pan-Arab recognition
of Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from Arab lands captured
in 1967. The 22-member Arab League has since endorsed the plan.

There was no immediate comment from Egypt or the Arab League on Peres’ intention.

Earlier this week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
endorsed the idea as a “basis for a discussion on overall regional
peace.” Peres and Barak have discussed the issue with Prime
Minister-designate Tzipi Livni. Her office has refused to comment.

Israel’s
outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has welcomed the Saudi plan, but
he and other leaders want to keep small parts of the territories
captured in 1967.

Israel also objects to language that appears to endorse a large-scale return of Palestinian refugees to lands inside Israel. Israel says a massive influx of Palestinians would destroy the country’s Jewish character.

Peres,
Israel’s ceremonial president, first proposed putting Israel’s various
peace talks on one track last month at the United Nations, calling on Saudi King Abdullah
to “further his initiative.” He has since been pushing the idea in
meetings with Israeli, Arab and Western officials, his office said.

While Peres has no formal role in Israeli foreign policy, he is a Nobel peace laureate and well respected in the international community.

Peres and Mubarak are to meet Thursday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheik. Peres’ office said talks would also focus on the fate of a kidnapped Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip and the global financial crisis.

Egypt
has been brokering a potential prisoner exchange between Israel and
Gaza’s Hamas leaders. Hamas is holding an Israeli soldier captured more
than two years ago in a cross-border raid from Gaza into southern Israel.

Source: AP

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