CAIRO: The establishment of a Palestinian state is the first step towards normalizing relations between the US and the Middle East, President Hosni Mubarak wrote in a commentary published Friday in The Wall Street Journal.
“Among the host of challenges before us, it is the Palestinian issue that requires the greatest urgency, Mubarak wrote.
He hailed President Barack Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo as a new beginning between the US and the Middle East, calling it “a turning point in America’s relations with the Muslim world. His message was clear and incontrovertible: It is issues of politics and policy, not a clash of values, that separate the Muslim world and America. It is the resolution of these issues that will heal the divide.
Mubarak stressed that peace in the Middle East must begin with a solution to the Palestinian issue, starting with the establishment of permanent borders based on 1967 lines. He argued that “this would unlock most of the other permanent status issues, including settlements, security, water and Jerusalem.
Mubarak wrote that the basis of a peace settlement has already been established through two decades of negotiation and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. He argued that the US and Egypt can play a leadership role in a final agreement.
Egypt, he wrote, has played an important role in trying to unite the Palestinian leadership and establishing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Mubarak also stressed the need for a “comprehensive settlement between Israel and all of its neighbors, including Lebanon and Syria.
He cautioned, however, that both sides must be willing to reciprocate efforts at reconciliation. Mubarak argued that “Israel’s relentless settlement expansion must end, along with its closure of the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians, for their part, “must continue to develop their institutional capacity while overcoming their division to achieve their aspirations for statehood.