Middle East News
Mubarak: Egypt not bound by US-Israeli deal on Gaza smuggling
Feb 5, 2009, 12:13 GMT
Cairo - Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak has said that Egypt is not bound by a US-Israeli deal to end weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip, in remarks published in Egypt's leading government dailies Thursday.
'I say that the smuggling of goods is the result of the blockade, and that Egypt is not bound by the Israeli-American agreement on monitoring arms smuggling into Gaza,' Mubarak said in an address televised on Wednesday night and extensively quoted in the government-owned dailies al-Ahram and al-Akhbar Thursday.
'We emphasize that any international agreements with Israel should be far from Egypt's land, skies, and regional waters.'
A January 17 US-Israeli agreement makes special note 'of the efforts of Egyptian President Mubarak, particularly the recognition that securing Gaza's border is indispensable to realizing a durable and sustainable end to fighting in Gaza,' and calls for 'enhanced US security and intelligence cooperation with regional governments on actions to prevent weapons and explosives flows to Gaza that originate in or transit their territories.'
Mubarak has repeatedly rejected the presence of international monitors on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, calling it a 'red line' he would not allow to be crossed.
'We, like any responsible state, are capable of securing our own borders,' Mubarak said.
The Egyptian president also stressed that he would not allow the country to be dragged into war with Israel.
'Brothers, sisters, and sons,' Mubarak told security officials gathered for Police Day, 'Warmongers stood helpless against the aggression on Gaza. They have stood still, doing nothing but delivering speeches and slogans.'
'I will not allow anyone to drag us into taking steps with untold consequences,' he said. 'I will not allow the Egyptian Army to be dragged into a war with Israel.'
During Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip, tens of thousands in Egypt protested what they called Egypt's inaction, and protesters gathered in front of Egyptian embassies around the region. Syria, Iran, and Hamas have likewise issued veiled criticisms of Egypt and Saudi Arabia for Egypt's position during fighting in Gaza.