CAIRO – Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Tuesday that Israel would have to revive peace talks and freeze settlement construction before Arab states take steps toward a normalization of ties.
“If Israel took a big step toward Palestinians that reflected its sincerity and readiness for serious negotiations ... only then if some Arab parties take steps ... would it be acceptable to us,” he said. A freeze of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land alone “can not be met with normalization,” he added, speaking to reporters after talks with his Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos.
Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel, but Egypt does not have fully normalized ties with the Jewish state. The United States has asked both Israel and Arab states to adopt confidence-building measures ahead of a peace settlement, calling for a settlement freeze and asking Arab states to begin a process of normalisation. Several Arab states have said they will not normalize ties before substantive negotiations or a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, while Israel has said it would expand settlements in the West Bank.
But Israeli settlers vow they will fight any partial freeze in construction of Jewish homes in the occupied West Bank, a move they see as a cave-in by their government to American pressure. - AFP