Obama to Mubarak: Netanyahu Fears Peace Moves Will Ruin Coalition

Arab sources: Mubarak unimpressed by message, retorted that Netanyahu chose to form a rightist coalition.

During his recent visit to Cairo, U.S. President Barack Obama relayed to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that any cessation of settlement construction and acknowledgment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders will result in the collapse of his coalition government.

Arab sources say Mubarak was not impressed and retorted it was Netanyahu's choice to form a right-wing coalition and he could therefore not repeatedly use that excuse for doing nothing.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry dispatched the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, to meet with journalists in Cairo on Tuesday. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was not informed of the decision. The meeting was conducted at the Press Club sponsored by the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Peace Now has been at the forefront of Israeli activism against settlement activity in the West Bank, and data it has collected has been used by the United States and the European Union in pressuring Israel to cease construction in East Jerusalem and elsewhere.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed Wednesday that Lieberman had not been informed of Oppenheimer's visit. Yigal Palmor, the Foreign Ministry's spokesman, told Haaretz that the director general of the ministry, Yossi Gal, approved the invitation for Oppenheimer to go to Cairo and the funding for his trip.

Palmor explained that regulations do not require the minister's authorization for such visits nor updating the minister about them.

The ministry spokesman said that many Israeli embassies, including the one in Cairo, invite representatives of organizations across the political spectrum, as well as academics and analysts, to present their views to decision makers and media in various capitals.

Palmor stressed that inviting a particular person does not reflect support for his views.

Oppenheimer said Wednesday the Egyptian journalists were interested in learning about the indifference of the Israeli left in view of the stepped-up efforts of the U.S. administration to renew the peace process.

The Peace Now leader said he called on the Arab press to contribute to confidence building between the two peoples.