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The latest events between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip cannot prevent an Israeli-Palestinian peace process from occurring, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Tuesday evening.
"[The events in] Gaza cannot interrupt the political procedureâ€¦ [or] stop us from helping the Palestinian people," the Egyptian president said during an interview with Channel One.
"It is the joint responsibility of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians," said Mubarak to ensure that Palestinian civilians do not get caught up in the political events taking place between Hamas and Fatah.
Peace will be achieved once the Palestinians and Israel arrive at a period of calm, a "tahadiye," during which agreements can be implemented, Mubarak reiterated several times during the interview.
Mubarak blames Hamas for PA scrape
Mubarak mentioned that Israel and Egypt have endlessly discussed the peace process, and within these meetings, arrived at numerous options which "weren't implemented," according to Mubarak.
The Palestinians received the news of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's readiness to release 250 Fatah-affiliated prisoners positively, said Mubarak, adding that "it did good for them to hear it."
Asked if Iran was partially responsible for Hamas's swift takeover of the Gaza Strip, Mubarak was quick to respond that he did "not want to blame anyone."
The events in Gaza, said Mubarak, threaten the entire region, including Egypt, Israel and Jordan, and therefore the residents of the Middle East must not avoid partaking in finding a solution for the Palestinians.
Mubarak believes that talks between Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during the Gaza events are possible, citing the lack of connection between "the internal Palestinian conflict" and Israeli- Palestinian relations.
Addressing the issue of his country's role in preventing constant smuggling of weapons via the Egyptian-Israeli border, Mubarak scoffed at Israel, insinuating that the Jewish state was quick to point the finger as such smuggling was taking place when the IDF still manned the Philadelphi Corridor.
"You Israelis are very clever. Before Philadelphi was handed over to Egypt, there were still smuggling incidents along the border."
Mubarak added that it was impossible for Egypt to find an end to the smuggling when Israel itself did not allow the country to deploy enough troops on the border to fulfill such a task.
"Our defense minister said that the forces deployed [on the border] are not capable of stopping itâ€¦You didn't agree to [the deployment figure]. Show me a country capable of completely defending its borders," Mubarak challenged.
Asked what could be done to curb Hamas's power, Mubarak answered, as most international leaders have since the group stormed Gaza two weeks ago, that it was important to ensure that the rest of the Palestinians were unharmed and become stronger - which would occur when they were provided with financial aid, food and electricity. This would "strengthen the nation and lead to an eventual tahadiye among the Palestinians," said Mubarak.
Mubarak said that he believed that peace negotiations between Israel and Syrian could be realized. "As long as the aim is to sit at the negotiation table, I support it," said the president.
Asked if Syria was serious in its recent peace propositions, Mubarak answered that Syria is in need of peace" and that "if Syria says that it is ready for peace, why shouldn't we talk?"
The Egyptian leader also added that he believed Israel had no interest in aggravating the PA internal conflict.
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