'Cold peace' between Egypt, Israel begins to thaw
There are new signs that the cold peace between Israel and Egypt may be thawing. Should reconciliation between the two states occur, it might provide just the spark needed to rekindle the dormant Middle East peace process.Skip to next paragraph
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Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres Sunday told a Jewish charitable organization gathered in Jerusalem that he has invited Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to meet with him ''on the frontier between our two countries.''
Mr. Peres said Mr. Mubarak had replied positively to the invitation, but had said that ''the ground must be prepared'' before such a meeting could occur.
There are indications Egypt may be ready for the normalization of its relations with Israel.
Mubarak, bouyed by the rees-tablishment of diplomatic ties between Jordan and Egypt last month, is believed to be ready to pursue a regional peace initiative. He has a potential partner in Jordan, where King Hussein has followed up on his bold restoration of ties with Egypt by sanctioning the convening of the Palestine National Council (the Palestinian parliament-in-exile) in Amman Nov. 22.
But even if the King and Mubarak are hoping to join forces with the Palestinians to draw up a new peace proposal, they need to draw in the United States, the only power capable of extracting concessions from the Israelis.
One way to interest the Americans in a new initiative would be the normalization of relations with Israel. The United States has found itself stuck uncomfortably between the two nations since Egypt withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv to protest the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
American officials have indicated to the Egyptians that they would like to see progress toward reinvigorating the ''spirit of Camp David'' as a means of reassuring the Israelis that the peace is a sound one.
For some Israelis, the chilly relations with Egypt have meant they can never experience real peace with an Arab country.
But Israeli Cabinet minister Ezer Weizman, one of the architects of the peace with Egypt, placed much of the blame for the state of relations between the two nations on Israel.
The trouble is ''our diaspora ghetto complex,'' Weizman told an interviewer for the Hebrew-language Yedioth Aharanoth. ''Our total lack of faith in everything, verging on paranoia. We take singular joy in showing how everyone hates us. For years, we tried to find a way to talk with the Arabs face to face; but the minute we started talking to them, we were seized by fears, misgivings.''
Only a confident Israel could be expected to enter into any sort of negotiations that would determine the fate of the occupied West Bank.
Mubarak has insisted that the Israelis must withdraw from south Lebanon, settle their border dispute with Egypt over Taba in the Sinai, and show some progress in addressing the Palestinian issue before he will return the ambassador.