Differences over J’lem, Iran nuke file dog Mubarak-Perez summit

President Hosni Mubarak met with Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres on Sunday in Cairo, where the two men reportedly discussed the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process," the Iranian nuclear file and a proposed prisoner swap involving the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006.

At a press conference before the meeting, Mubarak said: "The precarious state of the peace process does not allow for any talk of ‘interim solutions’ or ‘temporary borders’ of a Palestinian state."

"First, settlement building in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem should stop," Mubarak continued. "Then peace talks should recommence from where they left off, within the context of international legitimacy and the acknowledged 1967  borders, with a view to ending the suffering of the Palestinians and allowing them to establish their own state."

For his part, Peres said that any halt to Israeli settlement construction must be preceded by a fresh round of peace talks. "Jerusalem must remain under Israeli sovereignty and should not be considered a settlement," he said.

Mubarak responded: "Jerusalem isn’t just a Palestinian issue, but rather one that concerns Muslims all over the world. Unless we resolve the issue of the ongoing Judaization of Jerusalem, Israel will remain the enemy of Muslims worldwide. This issue must be on the agenda of any future round of negotiations."

At the press conference, Peres renewed his country’s refusal to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to rid  the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction. "Israel threatens no one," he insisted. "It is Iran that threatens Israel."

According to commentators on the American Fox News network, a prisoner-exchange deal could be hammered out as soon as 27 November, whereby Shalit would be released in return for the release by Israel of a set number of Palestinian prisoners. "President Mubarak will personally guarantee Shalit’s safety," they said.       

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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