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Egyptian FM Says Hamas a 'True Partner' for Peace

Egypt's Foreign Minister says he brokered the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation to create a true partner for peace; calls George Washington a "terrorist."
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 5/18/2011, 8:48 PM / Last Update: 5/19/2011, 2:16 AM

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabeel Arabi told Italian newspaper La Republica on Wednesday he had brokered the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal in the hopes of creating "a true partner" for peace.

"With this united Palestinian [government] Israel can negotiate for real, can carry through the implementation of UN Resolution 181 of 1947 which called for an Israeli and a Palestinian state," Arabi said in the interview.

During the interview Arabi dismissed concerns that Hamas, being a terrorist organization, would actually hurt the peace process. "Even George Washington was considered a terrorist, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, as well," he said.

Arabi, scheduled to become secretary-general of the Arab League in July, said Hamas would agree to negotiate with Israel, despite the fact that some of the organization's members called for violence against the Jewish State.

Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar said Wednesday he rejected peace talks with Israel and that Hamas would not allow Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to pursue them. Last week al-Zahar said any peace agreement with Israel would be a prelude to war.

"Egypt is ready to organize negotiations together with the United States and do what Clinton, Bush and Obama have asked, to create an Israeli and a Palestinian State," Arabi said.

Arabi is scheduled to meet on Thursday with members of the left-wing Israeli Peace Initiative, which includes former senior Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Mossad officials, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday. Former Shin Bet chief Yaakov Perry, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, and former envoy to the US Danny Gillerman are expected to meet with Arabi on Thursday.

The Israeli Peace Initiative maintains Israel's government should kick-start the peace process by adopting a framework for a peace settlement based on the 2002 Arab peace initiative, which calls for Arab states to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1948 armistice lines and compromise on the so-called right of return.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ruled out such a move during his Tuesday address in the Knesset plenum when he said Israel would retain 'settlement blocs' and that the Arab 'refugee problem' would have to be solved outside Israel's borders.

Israel's left-wing peace camp has a long tradition of undermining the policies of sitting Israeli Prime Ministers by negotiating on their own 'authority.' In 1993 then-defense minister Shimon Peres negotiated the disasterous Oslo Accords behind Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin's back.