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Pursue International Mideast Conference, Egyptian Envoy Urges

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The Egyptian Ambassador to the United States told a Jewish audience Tuesday that a possibility exists now to achieve peace in the Middle East through an international conference and it must not be lost.

“All the parties to the conflict, all those who care about the peoples of the Middle East and a stable Middle East, must do their utmost to make sure that this opportunity is not missed or wasted,” Ambassador El Sayed Abdel Raouf El Reedy said in a luncheon speech to the Capital Legal Counsel of B’nai B’rith, a newly-formed chapter of lawyers.

He expressed the belief that the conference would be successful since “who would want to share in the major burden of having such a conference fail?”

But El Reedy made clear that peace would require what he said was the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 formula of “land for peace,” specifically Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza.

He said the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty should be the “model” for achieving peace in the Mideast. Noting the meeting last week in Geneva between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, El Reedy said that such meetings were no longer considered a “novelty” but normal meetings between leaders of two neighboring counties.”

The two countries have achieved “peace, mutual respect and a welcome sense of security” and the same situation must be created between Israel and the Palestinian, El Reedy said.

Calling the Palestinian issue the “crux of the problem,” he said the “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza does not provide security for Israel and is harming Israeli society, particularly the young soldiers, who of “necessity” must carry out “harsh” measures. “I feel sorry for those young Israeli soldiers,” he said.

While the Ambassador did not mention the Palestine Liberation Organization in his talk, in response to a question he said if the PLO gave up violence it, too, should be included in the peace talks.

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