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Egyptian President Calls for Immediate Gaza Cease-Fire


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is warning Israeli leaders that the continuation of the conflict in Gaza will not contribute to the security of Israel, but will increase hatred, destabilize the entire region and derail negotiations for peace.

Hours before the Israeli government is to vote on an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, President Hosni Mubarak warned them that it was in their interest to accept an immediate and unconditional cease-fire.

Mubarak used uncharacteristically tough language to drive home his point.

He says that Egypt rejects the continuing Israeli war on Gaza and demands that an end be put to it immediately, because it is affecting the stability of the Middle East. He warns that the operation won't put an end to the Palestinian resistance and won't bring security to Israel or its people but will, instead, deepen feelings of hatred and anger towards Israel and block the peace process.

The Egyptian president also stressed that his country would do its best to secure the border with Gaza and with Israel, amid Israeli demands to put a stop to weapons smuggling in tunnels under the border, but insisted that Egypt would not accept an international force along its side of the border.

He says that Egypt, in its attempt to put an end to the conflict, will do its best to secure its border with Israel and with Gaza, but will never accept the presence of international monitors on its soil. That, he stressed, is a line which must not be crossed.

Mr. Mubarak went on to call for the organization of an international donors conference, along the lines of one organized for Lebanon, after the summer conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.

He also castigated Arab states and others in the region, alluding to Qatar, Syria and Iran, which are, in his words "trying to profit from the blood and sufferings of the Palestinian people."

Qatar organized an Arab summit, Friday, to which exiled Hamas leaders, based in Syria, were invited, amid strong rhetoric, and war-like calls from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to apply the Hammurabi Code of an "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" against Israel.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, the Damascus-based deputy chairman of Hamas political bureau, reacted to President Mubarak's call for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire by insisting that his group would study "what Israel does on the ground".

He says that it's not exactly clear what the [Israeli] position is towards the battle on the ground in Gaza, but that Hamas will study any [Israeli] position, and will make a decision about what to do with respect to what the Israelis do concretely, on the ground.

Several Hamas leaders have said recently that they are unwilling to accept a ceasefire that would be equivalent to "raising a white flag of surrender." Israel's security cabinet is set to vote on accepting or not accepting a ceasefire after sunset, Saturday night.


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