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Will Arabs talk to Israel?

Egypt’s foreign minister said Arab nations without diplomatic ties to Israel might talk to Israel under certain conditions.

Speaking on the eve of a trip to Israel, Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that although Egypt and Jordan are the only members of the Arab League talking to Israel about the Saudi-proposed Arab peace plan, other league members may join in talks at a later stage. The proposal envisions full Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for Israel returning all lands captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and allowing for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Aboul Gheit will be joined in Israel by his Jordanian counterpart, Abdel Ilah al-Khatib, to discuss the Arab peace initiative with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called on other Arab states to join the talks, but those that have responded said Israel first would have to accept the proposal.

On Tuesday, Aboul Gheit suggested the possibility of broader contacts if Israel meets certain conditions, but he did not get into specifics.

 

“The committee’s statement pointed to the possibility for a larger working group to contact and consult the Israeli government about the peace settlement,” Aboul Gheit said in a statement. “This is on condition that Israel stops its actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

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