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Mubarak Asks Israel to Lift Blockade, US To Do More - 2002-04-04

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appeared on national television urging all of the parties involved in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to step up efforts to re-engage the peace process.

Mr. Mubarak said he has sent two letters in the past week to President Bush asking for greater U.S. intervention in the peace process and to pressure Israel to lift its blockade of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

He also called on the international community to increase pressure on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

Mr. Mubarak said Israel is mistaken if it believes a stepped-up military campaign against the Palestinians will reduce acts of violence in the region. The President said quote, Israel is blatantly violating all conventions on human rights. And, by doing so, Israel is contradicting the very rudiments of democracy Israel is claiming that it is exercising.

The Egyptian president called on Israel to honor past agreements and U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding the creation of a Palestinian state. Mr. Mubarak said if Israel maintains its current military operations it will only increase Arab hatred. He accused Israel of attempting to expand its settlements in the occupied territories.

The president said for its part Egypt is launching a national campaign to send as many doctors and nurses, as well as medical supplies to the aid of the Palestinian people.

Mr. Mubarak's remarks follow by one day a decision by the Egyptian government to limit direct contacts with Israel while maintaining diplomatic channels aimed at achieving peace in the region.

There have been angry, sometimes violent, demonstrations at universities across Egypt ever since the Israeli military surrounded the office of Yasser Arafat. Protesters, among other things, are calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Egypt.

Political analysts in Cairo have said the move to limit Egypt's contacts with Israel as well as the president's latest address are aimed, in part, at easing growing Egyptian anger.