Israel Tries Diplomacy

  • Share
  • Read Later
CAIRO: Israeli President Ezer Weizman met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Monday in Cairo with relations between the two countries at an all time low since the two countries signed a historic peace agreement almost two decades ago. Weizman, who is a symbolic president with few political powers, made the trip despite strong criticism in Israel that he was overstepping the bounds of his ceremonial office. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that Weizman did not have the mandate to negotiate peace, but added that he hoped the meeting with Mubarak "will help bilateral relations." Weizman hopes the trip will help settle an Egyptian president who has become increasingly pessimistic about the future of peace negotiations. "I am very, very, very upset," Mubarak told TIME's Middle East correspondent Scott MacLeod in an interview published in the October 21 issue of TIME Magazine. "I am a man of peace. ... Since Mr. Netanyahu came, everything is frozen." Mubarak, who boycotted the recent Middle East summit at the White House, told TIME that he didn't attend because he knew there would be no real progress made in the meeting. "It was a very important visit," says MacLeod. "Mubarak has developed a friendly relationship with Weizman over the 19 years they have known each other. Weizman, who has the respect of Arafat and Mubarak, is trying to play an important symbolic role in keeping the balance on the peace process. He has taken the political initiative to try and maintain the confidence of the Arab partners in Israel as a whole. Netanyahu was unable to do that." -->