Egypt has expressed concern over Israel’s insistence on being recognized as a "Jewish state," saying this would endanger the fate of Israel’s Arab minority.
"Israel wants to call itself a Jewish or Hebrew state. This is worrying," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the al-Arabiya television network on Monday, Israel’s Ynet news website reported.
"If the international community defines Israel as a Jewish state — such a decision should be approved by the UN," he added.
The Egyptian minister expressed concern over the fate of the Palestinians living under Israeli rule in the occupied territories.
"Will they receive all the civil rights? Will they remain a minority or will they be expelled?" he questioned.
Speaking on the recently launched direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Aboul Gheit criticized Tel Aviv’s continual illegal settlement building in the West Bank, despite repeated international calls for a permanent freeze on the construction.
He mentioned permits that will allow West Bank construction to proceed for the next two to three years despite a 10-month halt due to expire on September 26.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who attended last week’s summit in Washington along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, also urged a renewal of the West Bank construction moratorium.
Mubarak said settlement building constituted a "violation of international law."