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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arabs Urge Israel to Heed Talks

AQABA, Jordan -- The leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians on Wednesday urged the new right-wing leader of Israel to stick to a Middle East peace process based on exchanging land for peace with the Arabs.


"The three leaders objectively evaluated the results of the Israeli elections and called on the new Israeli government to continue with the peace process on the principles of the Madrid conference," said a final communique after the summit.


The meeting in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba was part of a flurry of widening Arab contacts triggered by the election last week of Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu on a platform vowing tougher terms in peace talks.


Arab governments have widely varying ideas on how to react to the triumph of the right in Israel.


Iraq on Wednesday urged Arab leaders to cancel their peace treaties with the Jewish state, while some Arab governments are already making contact with the Israeli prime minister-elect.


Netanyahu, confirmed on Wednesday as the election winner after a failed attempt in the courts to annul the vote, has questioned the basis of the land-for-peace talks begun five years ago in Madrid.


He refuses to contemplate Palestinian independence, negotiations on East Jerusalem or returning the Golan Heights captured from Syria in 1967.


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has taken a lead in the post-election Arab diplomacy, said another meeting of Arab leaders would take place on Friday night. Diplomats said it would group Mubarak, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.


"On Friday night there is also a meeting concerning peace and the need for Arab unity," Mubarak told a news conference after the meeting when asked about a meeting in Riyadh.


Despite concern at the election of Netanyahu, which has raised Palestinian fears of a halt to the five-year-old peace talks, Mubarak said he had "a feeling" the prime minister-elect would honor Israel's obligations to the peace process.


Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who was shaken by the election of Netanyahu, received the pledge of support from Mubarak and especially King Hussein that officials said had been his main goal at the Aqaba meeting.