ARAB AFFAIRS - Aug. 15 - Mubarak Rejects Arafat's Summit Call.
'Let's hold a summit'. What will a summit achieve?" (Such bluntness rare in the Arab world, illustrates the uncomfortable fact that the region's largest country, in common with other players, has all but run out of ideas as it faces up to the bloodshed of the continuing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the resulting anger of millions of ordinary Egyptians). But on Aug. 14 Mubarak sent Osama Al Baz, his main foreign policy advisor, to the US (see Arabs-Israel) in an attempt to kickstart diplomacy in the region. The immediate reason was Israel's occupation of Orient House. (Egyptian commentators view the act as signalling the end of the Oslo peace process. At the top of the Egyptian wish-list is the urgent dispatch of an international force to monitor a putative ceasefire that would revive the political process. Al Ahram on Aug. 14 said: "It's clear Egypt has to do something. The observers are a key element that would be the means by which you could fill the gap between a ceasfire and a resumption of negotiations". What does not appear to be on the cards is a further downgrading in diplomatic relations. Egypt withdrew its ambassador from Israel less than two month after the outbreak of the uprising. But in an interview with the pan-Arab Sharq Al Awsat newspaper before his departure, Baz dismissed the possibility of closing the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv. A recent Arab meeting to revive the boycott against Israel was not attended by Egypt or Jordan, both of which have peace treaties with Israel. Mubarak has tried to keep some sort of process alive since last Sept. when Sharon toured E. Jerusalem's Al Aqsa compound and sparked the Palestinian uprising. Along with King Abdullah of Jordan, Mubarak last year sponsored a peace plan that came to nothing. Since then, Mubarak has hosted FM Peres and Yossi Beilin, the former justice minister in Barak's government, in an attempt to find some way forward. But Egypt has been more reticent since Mubarak prematurely announced a ceasefire after a meeting in Cairo in April which Peres swiftly denied. Cairo's general tone of moderation is also tempered by the knowledge that Palestinian suffering is the cause of great public anger. "Egypt can help in certain situations but it needs the community of nations", said Abdel Moneim Said, head of the Al Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies in Cairo. "The situation at the moment is like a boiling cauldron. It has to burn itself out".
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|Title Annotation:||Yasir Arafat; Hosni Mubarak|
|Publication:||APS Diplomat Recorder|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Aug 18, 2001|
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