Egypt reality 'means Israel must resume peace talks'

AFP, Friday 4 Feb 2011

Israeli senior official argues Egypt's crisis necessitates the return to negotiations with Palestinians

Shaul Mofaz. (AFP)
Shaul Mofaz. (AFP)

Israel must relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians in light of the massive protests rocking Egypt, a senior Israeli politician said, as the popular uprising on Thursday entered its tenth day.

Shaul Mofaz, head of the powerful parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defence, said the revolt in Egypt is creating a new strategic reality in the region, making it imperative for Israel to restart talks with the Palestinians.

"The crisis in Egypt is a new strategic situation," the former defence minister told journalists late on Wednesday.

"Because of the strategic change in our region, we have to move forward with the Palestinians," said Mofaz, who is a senior figure within the opposition Kadima party. "We have to do our best to restart negotiations with the Palestinians and with Syria as well."

The alternative would mean Israel becoming "a state for two nations and we will be very close to a new war with our neighbours."

Direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians broke down late last year in a bitter row over Israeli settlement building, and look unlikely to restart any time soon.

Mofaz, a former chief of staff, has been working on his own peace plan which would involve the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders, and parallel talks on final status issues.

His plan, which was made public some 15 months ago, would initially involve a Palestinian state on only 60-65 percent of the occupied West Bank.

"We have to move to an interim agreement whereby we have a Palestinian state in the West Bank on 65 percent of the land ... with full continuity from north to south, with an international guarantee that the size of the land in a permanent agreement will be in the 1967 borders," he said.

The move would involve a land swap of only 6-7 percent of the land, he said.

"It will mean the Palestinians move from having an authority to the status of a state," said Mofaz, claiming that "most of the (Israeli) leaders as well as the people believe" a future Palestinian state would be based on the 1967 lines.

"The major issue is that it will change the atmosphere totally."

The Palestinians have always rejected the idea of an interim agreement, establishing borders for a future Palestinian state, insisting they want a comprehensive deal.


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