In the Arena

Israeli and Egyptian Peace Meeting

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I’ve now heard from several sources that Israeli and Egyptian diplomats met for the first time since the revolution in Cairo last week–and the Israelis got an earful. “We’re not interested in a peace process,” the Egyptians told them. “We’re interested in a peace settlement.” This is understandable: the new Egyptian government isn’t going to abandon Hosni Mubarak’s peace treaty with Israel, but it is going to have to defend it. That would be much easier if the Israelis were actually seen to be making major steps toward peace–like stopping the expansion of illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories. “Mubarak was old and tired,” an Egyptian diplomat told me. “He had accepted the status quo. The new government doesn’t have that luxury.”

This new factor probably won’t change the current Israeli position–which, as I reported yesterday, is likely to become even more recalcitrant if the two Palestinian factions reconcile–but it adds heat to the cauldron…and perhaps, over time, if no significant progress is made, a lot of heat.