Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Photo by AP
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Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state by the Palestinians is unnecessary, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview broadcast on Channel 1 on Saturday night.

Mubarak said that in Israel there is a Jewish majority like in Arab states there are Muslim majorities.

"I say to Israeli citizens, including Jews, Muslims and others, that there is no such thing as a state in which all the citizens are Jews," Mubarak said. "In Egypt, we have Muslims, Christians and Jews and there is no problem. When they wanted to establish a Muslim state in Kosovo, the world came out against it because it did not want a Muslim state in central Europe."

Mubarak cautioned Israel against renewing settlement construction in the West Bank. If settlement construction is renewed, he said, it would torpedo the founding of a Palestinian state and increase terrorism against Israel and the United States throughout the Middle East.

Mubarak said that a continued settlement freeze and serious negotiations could lead to a framework peace agreement within a few months.

The Egyptian president expressed optimism that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are serious about reaching a peace agreement.

"This issue requires tough decisions to be made by courageous leaders and I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu can make tough decisions," Mubarak said.

In the interview, Mubarak also warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. He called for Israel to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and demanded that Iran restrict its use of nuclear energy to civilian purposes only.

"We want the region to be free of weapons of mass destruction, whether we're speaking of Iran or Israel," he said.