Egyptian FM Aboul Gheit
Egyptian FM Aboul GheitIsrael News photo: (file)

The new Israeli government is to blame for the fact that Fatah and Hamas have not been able to reconcile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in an interview Tuesday with Al Sharq al-Awsat, a leading pan-Arab newspaper.

Aboul Gheit complained that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has taken no positive steps in the peace process with the Palestinian Authority since taking office a month ago.

Aboul Gheit, who has been Egypt’s Foreign Minister for close to five years, said that the problem is not just Netanyahu’s choice of Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister but the basis upon which the government was established.

He did, however, focus his criticism on his Israeli counterpart and his public statements, including – according to Aboul Gheit – Lieberman’s opposition to the two-state solution and to further concessions to the Arab side.

“The Israeli Foreign Minister says, on his first day in the Foreign Ministry, that Israel has made numerous concessions and that it has given the Arab side [territorial] concessions that are three times larger than the territory it occupies,” Aboul Gheit said. “I see no logic in these words because he is referring to the Sinai. If he has forgotten [the Yom Kippur War in] 1973 I want to remind him of it the fact that Egypt can regain its territory in any possible way.”

In a reference to the failed attempts at reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, Aboul Gheit added blamed “Israeli stubbornness” for causing the Arabs to toughen their stance.

He said that Egypt strives to soften the Israeli position and to encourage the United States and the European Union to push it towards peace.

Aboul Gheit also voiced satisfaction with the EU’s willingness to upgrade its relations with Egypt and said that the possibility of a partnership agreement would soon come up for discussion in a joint panel with the EU.