Netanyahu: Israel ready to renew peace talks


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that Israel plans to renew peace talks with the Palestinians soon.

Israel’s prime minister met with Mubarak in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheik Monday morning after greeting Pope Benedict XVI at Ben Gurion International Airport upon his arrival in Israel.

"We want, as soon as possible, to resume the peace talks with the Palestinians and I hope they will indeed resume in the coming weeks," Netanyahu told a joint news conference following the meeting.

Netanyahu said Israel’s peace with Egypt "withstood all the tests of time, and as far as we’re concerned, and I know that for Egypt, too, it is a strategic asset, a cornerstone of the stability and hope in the region."

Mubarak added that the three-decade peace between the two countries has "proven that peace is not impossible."

Mubarak said he and Netanyahu raised important issues during their talks, "including the settlements and the threat they pose to peace. We also spoke of the need for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that will exist alongside Israel in peace and security."

Mubarak told reporters that the leaders also discussed strengthening the Israel-Hamas cease-fire and opening up the Gaza border crossings, which he said would lead to a prisoner exchange to bring home kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

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