Jerusalem, April 16 – Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Cairo would not deal with ultranationalist Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Channel 2 television reported on Wednesday.
“We will work with any proposal by the Israeli government but not through the Israeli foreign minister,” Abul Gheit said in an interview with Russia Today television, excerpts of which were aired on Channel 2.
Lieberman stirred controversy last year when he said Hosni Mubarak could “go to hell” if the Egyptian president did not want to visit Israel. He once suggested Egypt’s Aswan Dam might be bombed.
“Of course he will not visit Cairo as long as his positions remain unchanged,” Abul Gheit said.
On his first day at the foreign ministry this month, Lieberman said the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis declaration of 2007 on peace with the Palestinians was no longer valid.
“A person has to think about the consequences of the signals he sends from his brain to his tongue during speech and there have been consequences for Egypt,” Abul Gheit said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose right-leaning government took office late last month, will meet Mubarak in Egypt in the near future, his office said last week.
It remains unclear what the two leaders would discuss when they meet in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and whether Lieberman would attend the meeting.
Under Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu’s predecessor, Egypt tried to broker a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip, where the Jewish state launched a punishing three-week offensive in December and January.
The indirect negotiations have shown little outward sign of progress. Israel wants Hamas to release an Israeli soldier captured by guerrillas in a cross-border raid in 2006.
Hamas wants Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit.