Israel's Peres to discuss peace process with Mubarak on Sunday
Israeli President Shimon Peres is scheduled to discuss the efforts to revive direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations with Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak on Sunday, a spokeswoman from Peres' office in Jerusalem confirmed.
The two will meet privately before attending a lunch hosted by Mubarak. The parley is scheduled one day before Peres' 87th birthday, DPA reported.
Israel Radio quoted senior Israeli officials as saying that Mubarak understands the coming months are critical for the future of the peace process. Indeed, the four months allocated to US-mediated indirect "proximity" talks will end in September, as will a partial 10-month moratorium on Israeli construction in the West Bank.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in Cairo on Thursday to brief an Arab League committee dealing with the peace process, has said he sees no justification for starting direct talks without any progress made in the indirect ones mediated by US envoy George Mitchell.
Abbas is, however, under heavy American and European pressure. Washington and Europe want direct negotiations to start before the partial settlement freeze expires on September 26.
Netanyahu told visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos he would not be able to extend the settlement moratorium because that would bring down his coalition.