Egypt says Israel lacks will for credible Mideast peace talks

Egypt says Israel lacks will for credible Mideast peace talks

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Saturday accused Israel of lacking the political will to enter "serious and credible" peace talks with the Palestiniansç AFP reported.

"Throughout this year, Israel has shown lack of the necessary political will to engage in serious and credible negotiations that aim at reaching a final settlement to the conflict," he told the 192-member UN General Assembly.

Abul Gheit outlined Egyptian proposals urging the international community to put forward "the formula for the final settlement" and stressing the need "to ensure Israel's commitment to halt all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem."

The freeze on Israeli settlement activity "should go simultaneously and in parallel with the negotiating track in order to reinforce the Palestinian confidence in Israeli intentions," he added.

"Israel's engagement in a serious, credible, clear and time-bound negotiating process would restore the situation on many other issues to the same way they had been in the 1990s in terms of the Arab interaction with Israel," Abul Gheit said.

Egypt has been Israel's main Arab interlocutor since the two signed a peace treaty in 1979, but the neighbors remain at odds over the peace process.

Cairo has also acted as a mediator in talks between Hamas and Israel on a possible deal to end the crippling blockade of the Gaza strip and free Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants more than three years ago.

Tuesday US President Barack Obama held inconclusive three-way talks in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. He told them to stop stalling and open talks on a comprehensive deal to halt an "endless cycle" of conflict and suffering.

Final status issues include the fate of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the borders of an eventual Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

Netanyahu has rejected a total freeze on all settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem ahead of the renewal of peace talks, insisting on the need to guarantee "normal life" in settlements which are home to 500,000 Israelis.

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