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PM seeks Egyptian help in renewing peace talks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak yesterday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt and called on the Egyptian leader to pressure the Palestinians to restart “direct, serious and intensive” negotiations with Israel. Netanyahu told Mubarak that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is possible as long as there is a will among the Palestinians to end the conflict. Netanyahu’s office described the meeting as “lengthy, friendly and comprehensive.”

After the meeting Mubarak’s spokesperson released a statement that said the Egyptian leader told Israel to “revise its position and policy and embark on tangible procedures … to reach a final settlement, not in stages or temporary that ends the occupation and establishes an independent Palestinian state.” Mubarak said that Israel needs to halt its settlement building and urged the US to be more involved in restarting the process.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour Benjamin Ben Eliezer (Labour party), who has close ties with Mubarak, attended the lunch meeting with Netanyahu and the Egyptian president. “I don’t want a photo-op, I want significant advancement in the peace process,” Ben Eliezer said. “The meeting was positive, but it’s definitely not enough. Talking to Mubarak can help start a process, but it is not the process.” Netanyahu’s invitation to Ben Eliezer to join the meeting is seen as an effort by the prime minister to persuade the Labour party to stay in the coalition and government.