CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview published on Saturday that he saw hopeful signs that big powers are turning their attention to a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“There are signs in that sense which have recently come from important international capitals … We hope that this will give birth to urgent and serious movement which will break the stalemate,” he told the Egyptian state newspaper al-Ahram. “There is a new window for hope, a chance to achieve peace which must not be lost as many chances have been lost before,” President Mubarak added.
Mubarak gave no indication of the signs he detected but both the United States and some European countries have in the past month shown tentative interest in Middle East peace ideas.
France, Spain and Italy have floated the idea of a new peace initiative but many details remain unclear.
The leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, told a news conference in Cairo on Saturday there was a historic opportunity to make peace on the basis of Israel’s borders as they stood on the eve of the 1967 war. Israel rejects those borders.
Mubarak added: “Achieving tangible progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track would have positive repercussions on the situation in Iraq and the other crises and points of tension in the region.”
Serious peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2001 after Palestinians launched a second uprising against occupation and a right-wing Israeli government replaced a government ready to make major territorial concessions.
On Iraq, Mubarak said that a U.S. troop withdrawal would lead to a deterioration in the situation but if the troops stayed the resistance would continue.
He advocated building up the Iraqi army and police — the strategy the United States has said for years it is trying.