The FINANCIAL — CAIRO. Israel and Palestinians have failed so far to create conditions for the resumption of direct peace talks, the Egyptian foreign minister said, according to RIA Novosti.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit attended on July 18 separate back-to-back meetings held by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell.
"Egypt believes there is the need for direct talks, that they are the road to reach a settlement … but to have these direct talks, the atmosphere must be ripe and enough progress made," Gheit told reporters in Cairo.
"The groundwork must be laid for the transition from indirect to direct talks and that is what they [Israel and Palestinians] are still lacking," he said.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks came to a halt in December 2008, when Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip in a bid to put an end to the firing of homemade rockets at southern Israel by Palestinian militants based in the enclave. The conflict left 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.
Israel has called on the Palestinian National Authority to resume direct peace talks immediately and without any preconditions.
Palestinians, however, cite ongoing Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, as a main obstacle to the peace process.
They also demand that Israel agree to the borders that existed prior to the 1967 Middle East war as the basis for a future Palestinian state.
The Egyptian minister expressed hope that the sides would be able to build enough trust and exchange security guarantees soon to warrant moving from proximity talks to direct talks as early as in September this year.