TEL AVIV (Mar. 20)
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warmly praised Israel on Monday for peaceably relinquishing the Taba beach resort to Egypt and suggested it augured well for Arab-Israel relations.
But he also criticized the Jewish state for taking “stumbling” steps in the peace process with the Palestinians, saying Israel’s “resort to violence” in trying to quell the 15-month-long intifada “can only breed more violence.”
In what was described as a “major and important address” to the Egyptian Parliament, convened to celebrate Egypt’s new sovereignty over Taba, Mubarak said Israel had fulfilled all its obligations under the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, which was signed 10 years ago this Sunday.
Addressing the Egyptian people in his televised speech, Mubarak repeated the message of amity and peace he delivered at Taba on Sunday, when the Egyptian flag was officially hoisted over the enclave.
He also reiterated Sunday’s call on Israelis not to fear the Palestine Liberation Organization and to be willing to meet its representatives for negotiations.
He said the fulfillment of the Taba agreement would help spread an atmosphere of “peace and reconciliation,” not only in relations between Egypt and Israel, but also between Israel and other Arab countries.