Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu here in which they discussed ways to resolve the West Asia crisis and lift the Tel Aviv’s blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Israeli settlement activities on the Palestinian land also figured high at the yesterday’s meeting, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit said.

Netanyahu talked about Israel’s view point to establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in accordance with the 1967 borders.

This is what Israel is offering in return for its security and to relaunch the peace process, he told Mubarak.

Abul-Gheit told reporters that he along with minister Omar Soliman would travel to Washington in January to probe what the US administration has to offer Arab parties and review Egypt’s vision on how to mobilise peace efforts so that the final goals were achieved.

“Only then we can call the game over,” he noted.

“The US administration is, in light of available information, still making up its mind,” Abul—Gheit said.

The Egyptian foreign minister said the Mubarak-Netanyahu talks did not tackle a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas. “We did not go into detail about this file,” Abul-Gheit said, adding that Hamas is yet to decide on the issue.

A Hamas delegation is now in Damascus for further talks about the swap and will stop in Cairo to inform the Egyptian government of its stance, the foreign minister said.

Abul-Gheit said he understands the Palestinians’ need to free certain detainees.

But Israel insists that some of the prisoners should be banished; something Egypt rejects “because they are Palestinians and have the right to live in their land,” he said.

Answering a question on Hamas threats to transfer the Palestinian file from Egypt to other parties, Abul-Gheit said that Egypt is capable of keeping contacts with all sides including the US, Palestinians, Israelis, Arabs, Quartet and other regional parties.

Mubarak-Netanyahu talks did not tackle amending a Camp David accord to increase number of Egyptian forces in Sinai, Abul-Gheit added.

Concerning the Egyptian mechanism to build a barrier on the borders with Gaza, he said it is related to Egyptian sovereignty.

During the talks, President Mubarak asserted the importance of halting Israeli practices to Judize al-Quds and deform al-Aqsa Mosque, Abul-Gheit said.

Those who criticise Egypt do not know the responsibility it shoulders especially vis-a-vis Palestine, he said, adding that the Egyptian stance is known to all.

The Egyptian side noticed development in the Israeli stances, he maintained.

Concerning the media fury over the access of the 3rd Life Artery Humanitarian Aid Convoy into Gaza, Abul-Gheit said there are some circles that are trying to put Egypt in a difficult situation.

“They are using the convoy to do that,” he said.

Abul-Gheit said the convoy was told on November 10 that they would be allowed access through El-Arish.

“They replied saying that ‘We got your writings, (but) we will come to you through Aqaba,” he said.

“Those who challenge the Egyptian will should be up to the challenge,” he said.

Abul-Gheit stressed that the siege on the Palestinian people is imposed by Israel and “those helping it to do that“.

Israel has slapped a choking blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized control of the strip in 2007.

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