Under the title 'Relations with Israel,' columnist Hazem Abd Al-Rahman, in the leading Egyptian Government daily Al-Ahram, calls for developing Egyptian-Israeli relations and dropping the negative attitude towards Israel. The following are excerpts from the article:(1)
'Egyptian-Israeli relations occupy an important place in Egypt's foreign policy and the first serious signs of openness in [Egyptian-Israeli] relations that we are now observing are important.
'Enhancing relations with Israel also increases Egypt's ability to influence Israel's policy towards the Palestinians in the territories in a way that will fulfill the [Palestinians'] national aspirations, [their] right to self-determination, and the establishment of a state for the Palestinian people. It is obvious that under conditions of a 'cold peace,' no such opportunity exists. This is because when relations diminish or stagnate, the ability to take advantage of them in order to influence also diminishes or stagnates.
'In addition, the development of relations with Israel and interest in [these relations] can open a window [of opportunity] that will free Egyptian-Israeli relations from any form of reliance upon [Egypt's] relations with the U.S. It is not natural, necessary, or essential for relations with Israel to be influenced by [Egypt's] relations with the U.S. Namely, we hope that [Egypt's] relations with Israel will be strong, self-sufficient and completely independent from relations with the U.S.
'The same should hold true for relations between Egypt and the Arab countries because we should not allow [Egypt's] relations with the Arab countries to negatively impact relations with Israel. Moreover, the development of Egyptian-Israeli relations could step up the impact of the Arab factor in relations with Israel. This is a very important point because through these [Egyptian-Israeli] relations, the Arabs can achieve positive results.
'Objective analysis on this matter cannot lead to any other conclusion. It is time to drop the negative attitudes towards Israel, and relations with it. The basic value of the peace accord between Egypt and Israel lies in the fact that it expunges the term 'prohibition' or 'taboo,' which was created in the past by Arab policies towards Israel, and which turned relations with Israel into an abomination that could not be allowed.
'Relations with Israel are a privilege and a correct [step] which should be developed in a way that will fulfill the achievable interests.'
(1) Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 8, 2004.