The FINANCIAL — CAIRO. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will on May 3 discuss prospects of indirect dialogue with Palestinians with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's Information Ministry said, according to RIA Novosti.
Netanyahu will arrive in Egypt on a short working visit. According to official Israeli sources, his purpose will be to convince the Egyptian leader to influence Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the world to see progress in the Middle East settlement.
Israel has called on the Palestinian National Authority to resume peace talks that stalled over a year ago 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.
Under the internationally agreed roadmap for Middle East peace, Israel is obliged to freeze all settlement construction activity and remove unauthorized outposts built since 2001 from Palestinian territories.
Abbas said in late April that he is ready to work with Netanyahu. The announcement came after U.S. mediator George Mitchell spent three days in the region in a bid to restart Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
On Saturday, the foreign ministers of Arab countries promoting the Palestinian-Israeli settlement initiative supported the resumption of indirect talks under U.S. mediation. The talks could resume in the first half of May but analysts doubt that they would be a success unless Israel agrees to stop settlement construction.
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.