Netanyahu says he will visit Egypt Tuesday

Jerusalem–Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he would hold talks in Egypt on Tuesday with President Hosni Mubarak.

"I believe we have an interest in moving the peace process forward in a variety of ways," Netanyahu said of the meeting with Mubarak in a conference with reporters at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said he had requested the meeting with Mubarak after talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Israel last week.

"I intend to continue this important dialogue," the Israeli leader said.

Egypt, along with Germany, is mediating a prisoner trade between Israel and Hamas under which the Islamist group, in charge of the Gaza Strip, would release a captured Israeli soldier and Israel would free some 1000 jailed Palestinians.

"At the moment there is no deal and it is not at all clear to me if there will be one," a senior Israeli official quoted Netanyahu as telling ministers from his right-wing Likud party ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting.

"If we get a real proposal, I will bring it before the government, but we are not there yet and I don’t know if we will get there," Netanyahu said, according to the official who was present at the gathering.

Netanyahu said that the killing of a Jewish settler in a West Bank attack last week underscored fears that a prisoner release could lead to a new wave of violence.

On Saturday the Israeli army killed three Palestinians in the city of Nablus whom it accused carried out last week’s deadly attack. One of the suspects was released from Israeli prison several years ago.

"The fear that terrorists could return to terror activity is a key consideration in the negotiations on Gilad Shalit. The security of our citizens, especially those in Judaea and Samaria (West Bank) is cardinal," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu last visited Egypt in May, meeting Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the Israeli leader pledged to pursue talks with the Palestinians.

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have been suspended for the past year.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said talks would resume only if Israel halted all settlement construction on land it captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. He has rejected as insufficient a limited moratorium on new building in West Bank settlements that Netanyahu imposed last month.

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