Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Thursday praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's approach to the peace process, while saying there were "prospects" for the Israeli-Palestinian track.
"What we have noticed is that Netanyahu is showing a new approach and ideas that go beyond his original position," Gheit told Sky News. He is eager to open discussions with the Palestinians, but he is showing changes."
He said the Egyptians had told Netanyahu that he must ensure his ideas serve to "encourage" the Palestinians.
The Egyptian foreign minister went on to say that he hoped by January 9-10 "we'll be in a better position to determine the course and road to follow."
He said the idea was to bring Palestinians and Israelis, supported by the US and the international community, to the negotiating table in order to agree on an "end game."
Gheit said, however, that a final settlement must include a Palestinian state on all West Bank territory, according to 1967 lines.
"If we agree on that, then there will have to be an agreement on a full moratorium on all settlements," he added.
He concluded by saying Jerusalem must be a united city, but half for Israelis and the other half, east Jerusalem - which he called "original Arab" land - under Palestinian rule.
Also Thursday, President Shimon Peres called on Palestinians to resume peace negotiations, saying that it was the wish of both the Israeli government and the opposition.
"The new year could be an opening of a new chapter of relations between us and the Palestinians," Peres said in a Christian New Year greeting, adding that the alternative to peace was "destruction, murder and violence."