Egypt can use its "trump card" for peace in Middle East

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 19/ Trend , U.Sadikhova /

The influence of Egypt in the Arab countries and diplomatic ties with Israel can help Cairo play a constructive role in advancing the peace process in the Middle East, experts say.

"Egypt will play the most important role in every agreement in the region, since it is the most powerful and important country in the Arab world - Yossi Mekelberg, a leading analyst on the Middle East program of the British Institute of International Affairs Chatham House, Trend by telephone from Cairo. - Egypt has a leverage, the capacity to use it for agreement.

In his article in The Wall Street Journal, the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wrote that a chance appeared in the Middle East to sign Arab-Israeli peace, Reuters reported. President Mubarak believes that the speech of U.S. President Barack Obama in Cairo on June 4 can provide basis for peace.

The head of the White House called for a new era in U.S. relations with Muslim countries and supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that will co-exist alongside with Israel in peace and security.

"Circumstances give a chance to the Palestinians to establish their state and get rid of the occupation, guaranteeing the security of Israel and the world - Mubarak wrote in his article. - Egypt is ready for this, and I am sure that the Arab world will do the same thing."

Last week the U.S. special envoy in the Middle East, George Mitchell, said that the United States requires an immediate resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, which stopped after Israeli military operations in Gaza in December against the members of the Palestinian movement Hamas.

The disputable point between the United States and Israel is the building of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Israel has refused to freeze construction, despite the demands of Washington.

Egypt considers that "the Arab world can take steps in solving the Palestinian conflict, returning to the 1967 borders, stopping Jewish settlements, security, in addressing water problems and the status of Jerusalem," says President Mubarak.

Analysts believe that the spirit of Egypt in the re-establishment of peace talks could contribute to signing a peace agreement in the Middle East, considering that Egypt has diplomatic relations with Israel and strong ties with the United States and Europe. Cairo is also the chief mediator in the talks between Israel and Hamas on the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been in captivity for more than two years.

Khalil al-Anani, a leading analyst on Middle East, considers that Mubarak's word can reduce tension in the region which appeared after the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

During his speech at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Primer Minister Netanyahu agreed to recognize a Palestinian state, but if it would be demilitarized. Israel refuses to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians and freeze construction of Jewish settlements, said Netanyahu.

"Now we are between the parties who doesn't want any advancement and the parties who are standing for the peace," al-Anani, an analyst at Al-Ahram Studies Center, told Trend by telephone from Cairo. - Egypt is one who is fighting and standing for the peace in the Middle East.

Cooperation of Egypt with the United States and America's assistance in concluding peace in the Middle East will also be a positive factor in starting a new round of negotiations between the Palestinians and the Netanyahu Government.

If Egypt cooperates with the United States in the Middle East plans of Washington, it could force Israel and the Arab countries to gather around the negotiating table, said Mekelberg.

"Egypt is the most influential Arab country, it has good relations with Hamas, a common border with Gaza and the peace agreement with Israel. So it is very special position, it comes also diplomatically, so practically to facility the peace," said Mekelberg. 

Cairo was one of the initiators of convening a conference on reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, which was held in early March. Egyptian forces have also hindered the entry of weapons into Gaza through tunnels on the border, which comes from Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah Party. Despite the trustful relationship with the resistance movement Hamas, Egypt supports ending the military operations and skirmish in the region, according to the "road map" adopted in 2003 by the Quartet on the Middle East.

Despite Egypt's disagreement with the position of Netanyahu in construction of settlements, the Israeli expert Amatzia Baram excludes that it might complicate the situation in the region. "Mubarak will continue to support peace with Israel in the region, even if he is against the government of Netanyahu - Baram, Professor of History at the University of Haifa, told Trend by telephone. - Mubarak didn't like what Netanyahu said, so we have differences obviously, but I don't think that it will be a problem.

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