CAIRO: The need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “indispensable , Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in Paris Wednesday, where he was meeting with French President, Nicholas Sarkozy.
Over a working dinner the two leaders discussed several regional issues including Lebanon, Iran and Syria. The Darfur crisis and Sarkozy’s proposed ‘Mediterranean Union’ were also part of the talks, a spokesman for the French President said.
Along with the US and Europe, Mubarak and a number of Arab leaders have lent their support to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party in recent weeks, following Hamas’ takeover in Gaza.
“We are trying to reflect together to help resolve this problem. It is absolutely indispensable to act, said Mubarak. We must not despair, whatever the difficulties.
However, Chief Executive Officer of the Palestinian Ramattan News Agency bureau in Cairo, Qassem Ali, believes that both France and Egypt’s stance of supporting Fatah while boycotting Hamas – in line with other Western countries and Western-allied Arab states – will lead to a deterioration in the Palestinian situation.
“France has enjoyed a long relationship with the Palestinians, and [former French president] Chirac was generally liked throughout the region, Ali told Daily News Egypt.
“But without pushing for talks that involve both Fatah and Hamas, there will be no improvement, he said. “Hamas is a major power in Palestine and cannot be ignored.
But according to Fayek Fahim, political analyst and professor of mass communications at Misr International University (MIU), France’s increased role in Israeli-Palestinian mediation could prove vital to a breakthrough.
“The Israelis respect the French, Fahim told Daily News Egypt. “France might pressure Israel and convince them that to curb terrorism, they must root out its causes.
Fahim believes that France’s pragmatic approach could even lead to talks with Hamas.
“If you cannot change a reality you have to cope with it – that has been part of French policy since DeGaulle’s 5th republic. And that’s why [the French] have more prestige in the Middle East than America or Britain.
As for Sarkozy’s regional policy, and his country’s “well rooted relationship with Egypt,
Fahim says that France wants to strengthen ties with Egypt as a key to “stability in the Mediterranean basin, and to bolster the ‘Mediterranean Union’. Egypt, he continued, will want to reciprocate for its own reasons.
“Mubarak loves Paris, Fahim said. “If he wants a European perspective he will talk to France.
Ali on the other hand believes Sarkozy’s policy toward Egypt and the Middle East will remain more or less the same to that of Jacques Chirac.
“Perhaps he will become more involved, but for the most part – even if he is closer to America [than Chirac was] – his policy will remain largely similar.