Egypt’s Foreign Minister Pledges to Pursue Peace with Israel and Hits Syria’s Intransigence

Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali of Egypt has pledged that his country will pursue its peace process with Israel even if it takes years and will not become involved in war regardless of what other Arab states did.

In an interview published in the daily La Republican, the Egyptian diplomat criticized Syria for refusing to discuss anything with Israel, indicated that Egypt supported only the “positive elements” in the Saudi Arabian peace plan and expressed confidence that the present dispute between Israel and the U.S. over Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights does not jeopardize the Camp David accords.

Israel’s action on the Golan and any resulting armed conflict between Israel and Syria certainly would not involve Egypt, Hassan Ali declared. “The Arab common defense treaty no longer concerns us since the Arab countries chose to form another Arab League which has excluded us,” he said. “We will certainly not become involved in a war.”

EGYPT NOT CONCERNED WITH GOLAN ANNEXATION

He said that while Egypt condemned Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, it did not concern Egypt in the same way that the annexation of Jerusalem did when Israel made it official by adopting the Jerusalem law last year. According to Hassan Ali, Jerusalem is part of the West Bank, and Egypt and Israel are in the process of negotiating autonomy for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Contrasting the positions of Egypt and Syria, the Foreign Minister noted that “Syria refuses to discuss the Golan or any other problem with Israel. We have chosen peace and negotiations. This is our present position and will remain such also in the future… Only discussion can clarify differences and seek out an area of common agreement. It is a difficult task and we may need months, years. But we have no choice.”

With respect to the Saudi plan, Hassan Ali said it could be a follow-up but not a substitute for the Camp David accords. “I am not speaking of the plan in its entirety but of the positive elements contained therein, in particular, point seven which recognizes the right of all states in the region to live in peace,” he explained.

He added: “Later, one could discuss with Israel the (problem of) recognition of a Palestinian state, but one cannot arrive at an agreement with an enemy without accepting discussion with him.” He noted that at the initiative of the late President Anwar Sadat “We recognized Israel and following this, everything went well.”

Hassan Ali expressed confidence that Israel would carry out all of its obligations under the peace treaty with Egypt. He said Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had just confirmed that the last occupied portions of Sinai would be returned to Egypt next April 25.

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