Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called on other Arab states and the Palestinians today to join Israel and Egypt in the search for a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement.
Reaffirming again Cairo's full commitment to the Camp David accords and its treaty with Israel, Mubarak said he would pursue in the coming days the resumption of talks with Israel on the Palestinian autonomy issue. He called the talks the "key" to a just solution and "the only guarantee of stability and security in the region."
"Peace is a strategic objective and a goal that we will not abandon because it is the road to the future and an assurance of stability in the area," Mubarak told a special session of parliament. It is "a commitment by two peoples expressed in the Camp David framework, the peace treaty, its annexes and agreements signed afterward," he added.
Mubarak's hour-long speech seemed to be aimed primarily at ending Israeli and American fears that Egypt might pull away from the Camp David peace process following the Israeli withdrawal of the Sinai yesterday and might give priority to its normalization of relations with the other Arab states.
In fact, the thrust of his comments seemed likely to dash some Arab hopes for an early reconciliation with Egypt.
While he was openly critical of Israeli plans to establish new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and of recent Israeli military actions in those occupied territories and in Lebanon, Mubarak said nothing to indicate that all of this had shaken his faith in the peace process.
Instead, he said these "bloody conflicts" were "proof of the necessity to speed up and enlarge the arena of peace to include the whole area still suffering from wounds in order to reach a peace agreement between Israel and all her neighbors based on the example of the Egyptian-Israel peace treaty."
The Egyptian leader said it was "imperative" to take the first step toward solving the Palestinian problem by opening negotiations on autonomy and ending the consolidation of Israeli military and civilian rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
He did not mention the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in such negotiations or suggest that he was contemplating a new approach toward the Palestinian issue or the search for a comprehensive peace settlement that might anger the Israelis.
But he did express the hope that resumed talks would lead to a declaration of principals on autonomy and that "the people of Palestine" would join in the building of peace.
In Washington, President Reagan hailed the Sinai turnover as an "expression of faith in a more peaceful future," United Press International reported. The Senate offered similar praise in a resolution commending Israel's "historic and courageous step in the name of peace."
Mubarak reserved his toughest comments for the dispute with Israel over the demarcation of the southernmost point of their border at Taba on the Gulf of Aqaba.
He said Egypt would not yield "one inch of our sacred land and we do not accept bargaining over this."
After two weeks of negotiations mediated by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Walter Stoessel, the two governments announced today that they had signed an agreement on a temporary arrangement at Taba until a final border is fixed over the 600 to 1,000 yards in dispute.
Under the accords, Israel is to withdraw its forces to the line claimed by the Egyptians while Egypt's authority will extend only to the Israeli-claimed border, leaving the disputed wedge of land under the control of the multinational Sinai peace-keeping force.
Israeli authorities said construction of a luxury hotel and tourist complex inside the area would continue, an indication that it would not honor an Egyptian demand that all Israeli activities be frozen.
An Egyptian statement issued later said that no new construction would take place.
Mubarak also spoke about Egypt's relations with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. All of the conservative gulf kingdoms, except Oman, broke off diplomatic ties with Egypt after it signed the treaty with Israel.
He said Egypt's links with them could not be affected for long by "passing political events" and went far deeper than "official pacts or agreements."
But he gave no indication how, or when, Egypt and these Arab states might resume diplomatic relations and said nothing regarding his future policy toward Israel that would facilitate the reconciliation process.
The Saudi state radio said Monday that Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai and Israeli-Egyptian talks on Palestinian autonomy could lead to "regaining more Arab rights," The Associated Press reported.
Some observers saw the carefully worded commentary as an indication that conservative Saudi leaders hope Egypt will continue efforts to gain a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.
The Saudi broadcast gave seven different Arab viewpoints on the expected course of Middle East developments following Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai and said:
"The prevailing belief is that Egypt will affirm to the other Arab countries that the withdrawal was a Pan-Arab achievement, and that pursuing the Palestinian autonomy talks would lead to a specific formula and a declaration of clear principles conducive to paving the way for regaining more Arab rights."