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Globalization - Countries - Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Mubarak Proposes Palestinian State in Early 2003
Reuters - 6/4/2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who visits the United States this week, proposed in an interview published on Tuesday the declaration of a Palestinian state before negotiations on the final borders.

The New York Times, which interviewed Mubarak in Cairo on Monday, said the Egyptian leader would press President Bush during his visit to support declaring the Palestinian state early next year.

He indicated that Egypt, which made peace with Israel in 1979, was growing impatient with Washington's reluctance to propose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An Egyptian official told reporters in Washington on Monday evening that Egypt wanted the United States to set a target date for setting up the Palestinian state and for ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

"We are fed up with declaration of principles. ... We're going to discuss how can we manage to make a breakthrough," Mubarak told The New York Times.

"I think to declare a state just theoretically like this and then to sit and negotiate what would be the border, what about Jerusalem -- I think it may work," he added.

Mubarak also urged active mediation between Israelis and Palestinians, preferably by the United States, on the grounds that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat cannot make peace by themselves.

"To leave the problem of the Middle East to Arafat and Sharon alone you will get nowhere. It is a very sensitive area, and a dangerous situation," he said.

"It should be a heavyweight country like the U.S. that should try to interfere, try to listen to this and that and in the end make the two parties make a conclusion," he added.

The Bush administration has reluctantly stepped into the traditional role of Middle East mediator but it has so far resisted pressure to make its own proposals for a solution.

U.S. officials have argued that former President Bill Clinton went too far when he made his own peace proposals in 2000, just months before he left office.

The United States has concentrated instead on incremental steps designed to reduce the level of violence, in the hope that this will lead to political talks.

Two U.S. envoys -- CIA Director George Tenet and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns -- have been in the Middle East this week working on both security and political issues.

The United States says the final settlement should include a Palestinian state alongside Israel but it has not taken a position on the borders or other details.

Mubarak meets U.S. officials in Washington on Thursday and then goes to the presidential retreat at Camp David on Friday and Saturday for talks with President Bush.

Sharon will meet Bush in Washington on Monday.


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