Egypt hopes for a bigger role

IN TERMS of symbols, today's meeting in Egypt between President Hosni Mubarak and the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, has much to offer. It is the first summit meeting between heads of government of the two states for six years - even though Egypt is the only Arab country to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.

For over six years Mr Mubarak indulged an aversion to Mr Rabin's predecessor, Yitzhak Shamir. He refused to meet him. The stated reason was Egypt's assumption that such a meeting would not push forward the search for a comprehensive settlement in the region.

Mr Mubarak's willingness to meet Mr Rabin now suggests that Egypt is confident such a meeting will help the peace process. This in itself raises hopes that there might be some immediate outcome today. This could be some repeated assurance to Israel that it would try to get the Arab trade boycott of Israel relaxed or lifted.

Egypt has mixed feelings about Mr Rabin. It was not happy about the way in which as defence minister he cracked down on the Palestinian uprising in the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip. Yet Mr Mubarak did receive Mr Rabin in this capacity three years ago. For both are military men, with distinguished careers. Mr Rabin laid the ground for Israel's 1967 war victory, seizing from Syria the Golan Heights, from Jordan control of the West Bank, and from Egypt the Sinai peninsula, including the Gaza Strip.

Mr Mubarak, as air force chief, provided the air cover for Egyptian ground forces in their assault across the Suez Canal in 1973.

Egypt welcomed Mr Rabin's electoral victory primarily as a change from Mr Shamir. Mr Rabin has always been known as a man with an almost neurotic attention to detail, rather than a leader with a grand vision of his country's future. Yet so far, he has made the right sounds. He has called for a new approach to Israel's neighbours. He has ordered a freeze of further settlement activity. How much, and how far are less important than the fact that he is seeking to arrest, and maybe reverse a trend. That in itself is a measure designed to induce confidence in the Arab side that he is serious.

For its part, Egypt would like a larger role. Yet as it has had a peace treaty with Israel since 1979, its role is at best minor. Egypt, however, will gain some clearer idea of the commitment in substance of the new Israeli government to the search for a real settlement in the region, both with the Arab states (Syria, Jordan) and with the Palestinians.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us