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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Netanyahu Softens Talk in Cairo

CAIRO -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he was committed to peace treaties Israel had signed that call for the exchange of land for peace.


Netanyahu's comments in Cairo appeared to be a retreat from the uncompromising position on this issue he maintained last week during his first official visit to the United States.


The apparently fresh attitude of the Israeli leader, on his first visit to an Arab country since his election in May, prompted an upbeat Mubarak to say that their meeting had left him optimistic on Middle East peace.


"We believe that the peace should be based on the idea of fulfilling existing commitments -- that is all existing treaties are made to be fulfilled. This involves the principle of reciprocity. We keep our commitments and we expect the other side to fulfill their commitment," Netanyahu said.


The Likud leader has worried Arabs with his rejection of talks on the future of East Jerusalem with the Palestinians, his refusal to return the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967, and by saying he would not freeze Jewish settlements on occupied Arab land.


Arab leaders said at a summit last month that the surrender of Arab lands was the basis for normalization of relations with Israel.


Mubarak, whose country was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, said, "After such a meeting today I have great hopes that the process will continue ... I understand his conceptions ... The prime minister has assured me that his government intends to fulfill its obligation [to the Palestinians]."


Mubarak told Netanyahu peace was the best deterrent to violence.


"The link between peace and security should be put in the right perspective. Experience has taught us that a just peace, which is genuinely accepted by the majority of people, is the key to greater security and stability," Mubarak said.


Netanyahu announced at the press conference that his government would allow 10,000 workers from self-ruled areas into Israel, easing the economic hardships caused by a five-month closure of the Palestinian areas.


The Israeli leader thanked Mubarak for giving him a warm welcome that came in the face of abuse by Egyptian opposition papers which have vilified the right-wing Netanyahu.