Egyptian president Mubarak
Egyptian president MubarakIsrael News Photo

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, several hours before his scheduled meeting on Monday with U.S. President Barack Obama, said that the Arab world will not make any gestures towards Israel until a regional treaty is signed.

A Middle East peace pact must include Israeli agreement on the Arab demand for the right of millions of foreign Arabs to immigrate to Israel and the demand that the Palestinian Authority have control over all of eastern Jerusalem, Egyptian officials said.

In an infterview with the Egyptian daily al-Ahram, Mubarak rejected appeals by President Obama that the Arab world make small gestures towards Israel, such as allowing Israeli planes to fly in their air space and improving cultural ties.

"I affirmed to President Obama in Cairo [in June] that the Arab initiative offers recognition of Israel and normalization with it after, and not before, achieving a just and comprehensive peace," Mubarak told al-Ahram

He added that some Arab states that previously had trade offices with Israel might reopen them but only if Israel stops building for Jews in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and if Israel returns to the negotiating table with the Palestinian Authority.

The PA has rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s demand that it recognize Israel as Jewish state and has refused to meet with his government until all building for Jews in those areas is halted.

Mubarak also rejected participating in an American “defense umbrella,” as proposed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in the event of Iran’s reaching nuclear weapons capability. The Egyptian president reasoned that Cairo’s being a part of such a defense arrangement would go against its policy of prohibiting foreign troops in the country.

Ambassador Hossam Zaki, spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, told The New York Times that Israel is an “occupier" and therefore must “must make the first step.” Israel already has made several moves toward the PA, such as allowing it to deploy armed troops in major Arab cities and removing hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints in Judea and Samaria.

Delegations of Congressmen visiting Israel this month noted that the PA has not fulfilled its American Roadmap obligation of halting incitement and that it still teaches children that all of Israel, from Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, is Arab “Palestine”.

The Times noted that the U.S. is looking to Mubarak to break the deadlock between Israel and the rest of the Arab world and that the Obama government has modified criticism of Egypt’s political and human rights violations in return for cooperation.