'Moderates' coalition' needed, Netanyahu, Egyptian FM agree

Netanyahu: "Israel and Egypt have a mutual interest in strengthening moderates and in defeating extremists"

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu found themselves in unlikely agreement on Wednesday when they discussed the need for cooperation among moderate Middle Eastern countries. The two men met for an hour in Jerusalem's King David Hotel and discussed the Iranian threat and the need to defeat Hamas. "Israel and Egypt have a mutual interest in strengthening moderate Arabs in the Middle East and in helping to defeat extremists," Netanyahu told Gheit. "All the countries in the region must be partners in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power." The Egyptian foreign minister said in meetings with several Israeli political leaders that a "pragmatic coalition" was required to address extremism in the Middle East, but that such an alliance would not arise unless the Palestinian problem was solved first. Gheit called for skipping the first stage of the road map peace plan and reaching a quick agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on a final-status solution. Meretz leader Yossi Beilin presented his four-phase plan for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said a PA national unity government was needed to advance the peace process. Gheit also met with former foreign minister Silvan Shalom (Likud), who urged him to use Egypt's influence to persuade Islamic Jihad to stop the Kassam rocket fire coming from Gaza.