Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) met for separate talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (right) on Sunday amid a US-Egypt push for direct negotiations between the two men.
AFP - The Israeli and Palestinian leaders met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak separately on Sunday, after Mubarak conferred with the US Middle East envoy on a push for direct talks between the two men.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who are holding US-brokered indirect talks, did not make any statements after the meetings.
The official MENA news agency said Mubarak affirmed to Netanyahu the "necessity of preparing the right conditions to achieve the vision of a two state solution on the ground."
Mubarak, who publicly supports Palestinian conditions for resuming direct talks with Israel that were suspended 18 months ago, first hosted US envoy George Mitchell, who met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem earlier in the day.
Netanyahu told reporters before flying to Cairo that he would discuss the prospects for direct talks with Mubarak.
Abbas agreed to the indirect talks in May after face-to-face negotiations broke off in December 2008 following a devastating Israeli military offensive against Gaza.
The Palestinian leadership restated the conditions after a meeting between the US envoy and Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Saturday.
Senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo called for greater clarity from Washington about its position on new negotiations, insisting the Palestinians wanted to address the core issues of the Middle East conflict.
"Until now there is no clarity in the (US) position on a number of issues, especially those related to moving into final status talks," Abed Rabbo told reporters.
"The three-hour meeting between Abbas and Mitchell was important but there are several issues, most important among them the settlements and the situation in Jerusalem, that need more clarity," Abed Rabbo said.
The Palestinians have demanded a complete freeze on Israeli settlement expansion ahead of direct talks and have accused Israel of undermining the process by approving new settler homes in annexed Arab east Jerusalem, which they want as the capital of their promised state.
Earlier this month, during a visit to Washington by Netanyahu, Obama said he hoped to see direct talks begin before a partial Israeli moratorium on the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank ends in September.
In recent weeks, Abbas had appeared to back away from his previous demand for a full settlement freeze as a condition for opening direct talks, instead insisting on "progress" on the issue of borders and security.
In an interview published on Saturday, he said he would meet Netanyahu if Israel agreed in principle to a Palestinian state based on the borders before Israel's occupation of the West Bank during the 1967 war, with equal land swaps and the presence of an international security force.
"Israel must accept that the Palestinian territory in question be that of the 1967 borders and with the presence of a third party," he told Jordan's Al-Ghad newspaper, referring to Gaza and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem.
"This will push us to embark on direct negotiations," Abbas said.
The Palestinians say Netanyahu has yet to respond to the proposal, and the prime minister has previously said Israeli forces must remain in the strategic Jordan Valley after any peace deal to prevent weapons smuggling.
In an indication of the domestic pressure Abbas faces, his own Fatah party on Thursday told him not to join direct talks with Netanyahu's right-wing government without showing progress in the US-brokered indirect talks.
Date created : 2010-07-18