JERUSALEM (May. 17)
Egypt, which broke ranks with the Arab world a dozen years ago to make peace with Israel and sign the Camp David accords, is rapidly distancing itself from its Israeli ties.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak returned to Cairo from Moscow after a series of meetings with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The meetings ended with a joint statement, in which the two presidents called for peace in the region “on the basis of the U.N. resolutions pertaining to the Middle East.”
The mutual announcement is not particularly favorable to Israel.
The new Egyptian-Soviet understanding seems to have nudged the peace process closer to Israel’s political nightmare — an international conference under the aegis of the U.N. Security Council that would include the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Observers here say Moscow has shown that those who eulogized its withdrawal from the Mideast scene were premature. Moreover, the road now seems open as never before to a Soviet-American understanding on the Middle East.
Pundits here say it was no mere coincidence that the Egyptian-Soviet communique was issued shortly before U.S. Secretary of State James Baker arrived in Moscow for talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.
It was seen by some here as an invitation to Baker to join a Moscow-Cairo axis to monitor Israel.
Baker met with Mubarak on Wednesday. According to Ma’ariv, he told the Egyptian president that the United States is concerned by reports that the planned Arab summit meeting in Baghdad might adopt “militaristic formulas” against Israel.
Baker said that could undermine the peace process, according to Ma’ariv, and he asked Mubarak to exert his influence for peaceful solutions.
Israel was concerned earlier this month over Mubarak’s efforts to heal the rift between Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein and President Hafez Assad of Syria, both relentless foes of Israel.
While Mubarak did not succeed, he managed a rapprochement with Assad, who had denounced Egypt over the years for signing a peace treaty with Israel.