Egypt is one of only two neighbours of Israel at peace with the Jewish State. That does not stop its leadership from criticising Israel or playing a role in the ongoing conflict. This is an English language version of a December 30th, 2008 speech delivered by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek to mark the New Year.

Brothers and Sisters…

I am talking to you at the advent of the new Hirji year and the new year. I congratulate you on this occasion, voicing my best wishes to all Egyptians in the entire homeland governorates as well as all Egyptians and their families living abroad.

We are ushered to the new year, hopefully wishing it to be a good year to Egypt and its people. We receive the new year with new challenges ahead of us, imposed by the current world economic crisis. However, we feel confident in our ability to surpass this crisis, as we previously did with several past challenges.

We receive it .. with our brothers in Gaza facing a brutal Israeli aggression, induced by traders of the Palestinian blood with false pretexts and motives, while all its crunches and sufferings are borne by the sons of Palestine.

We receive it with full awareness of all perils of divide and disputes faced by the Palestinian arena, besides biddings and tracks witnessed by the Arab region as well as malicious moves of playing roles and imposing influence.

We say to Israel that its aggressions are rejected and condemned, and they have to be halted on the spot . We say to its leaders that you bear the responsibility of your brutal aggression on the Palestinians , whatsoever your pretexts and justifications are .We say to them that your hands, stained with bloods, fuel overwhelming rage and dwindle chances of peace .

We call on our Palestinian brothers to unify ranks and end their differences. We say to them .. we have repeatedly warned you that rejecting calm will induce Israel to launch aggression on Gaza. We reaffirmed to you that opposing the Egyptian effort for prolonging calm is an open invitation to Israel for this aggression .

We say to whoever seeks getting political gains at the expense of the Palestinian people that the Palestinian blood is not that cheap nor accessible.

We say it openly and strongly that Egypt is above all these little things and it will not allow anybody to attempt to realize his interests or impose his influence at its expense, by biddings or trading with the Palestinian blood. We say to all that our supporting stances to the Palestinian cause are above all malicious and suspicious endeavors.

Egypt has exerted strenuous efforts over the past six months for maintaining calm in Gaza, and it sought relentlessly for its extension and for the fulfillment of the national Palestinian accord, along with the successive Egyptian aid caravans of food and medicine to the Gaza Sector citizens, besides providing power supply to them.

Our attitude was obvious from the first day of the Israeli aggression, away from speeches and slogans. We proceed in our move towards an immediate and unconditioned halt of aggression – that can pose Israel to face its legal and political responsibility as an occupation force and that can stand beside the Palestinians in their peril.

Egypt has pushed forward, since the start of the Israeli aggressions, more relief aid into Gaza. and we will proceed with these endeavors, and I issued directives of opening Rafah crossing for accessing the wounded victims of the Israeli aggression, hospitalizing them in Saini, Ismailia and Cairo and providing them with maximum health care.

Egypt's vision for containing the existing serious situation aims at halting the Israeli aggression to allow for reinstating calm, stopping the Palestinian bloodletting and reopening crossings for mitigating the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Egypt will present this vision during the next Arab League ministerial council meeting. We will also maintain our move with an active and effective role with the two sides of the Palestinians and Israelis, with our Arab brothers and world partners for the fulfillment of this vision.

This vision comes in the context of a more comprehensive Egyptian vision for the Palestinian cause; vision that rejects Israeli plans of separating the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and Israel's dishonoring of its responsibilities towards Gaza and shifting their repercussions to Egypt.

This Israeli plan brings to memory the Israeli propagations since the 1980`s of (Gaza First) concerning the sector, and (the Jordanian Option) concerning the West Bank.

Egypt will not be entrapped in this Israeli designs, and it will not take part in boosting this separation between the West Bank and the sector. Both are deemed occupied territories for us, on which an independent Palestinian state can be based.

The existing situation in Gaza since the past year summer has witnessed a Palestinian divide between the National Authority and Hamas which opens the door for Israel to proceed with its plans of separating the West Bank and the sector. And we in Egypt will not contribute in enhancing this divide and this separation by opening Rafah crossing in the absence of the National Authority and the European Union monitors, and in violation to the 2005 year agreement. Nevertheless, Egypt has started-and is still doing so-the opening of the crossing before the humanitarian cases.

Egypt also exerted-and is still exerting – continued efforts with Israel for opening the rest of the six crossings, to and from the sector.

The existing situation in Gaza implies in its sides several risks and absent facts that have implications and impacts on the Palestinian people and cause. And I say it honestly and with full conviction that the right of resisting occupation is a solid and legal right, but resistance remains responsible before its people that can judge for or against it, in accordance with the gains achieved for thier cause or the waste, destruction and loss of martyrs.

Egypt will continue standing beside the Palestinian people, with all honesty and abstraction, by ranking high their interests above the factions` interests, taking into consideration that its cause is the termination of occupation and setting up the Palestinian state, as well as exerting utmost efforts for ending their sufferings and fulfilling their legal aspirations.

Brothers and Sisters…

Egypt receives the new year with a strong and coherent society, by its Muslims and Christians, farmers and workers, thinkers and intellectuals, as well as its middle class, businessmen and youths.

We receive the new year with full confidence in ourselves, convinced that we are on the right path. We are aware of the difficulties and challenges we are facing; never deviating from our commitments towards the Palestinian people and their cause.

We say to Israel's leaders stop your aggression on this people. Enough is enough for your undermining their destiny and souls of their sons.

Occupation is destined to end and the Palestinian cause will never die.

Egypt will remain a pride for its sons and a support for its nation, defending its territories and sovereignty, protecting its national security against threats, and topping high its interests and causes above any consideration.

Egypt will proceed on in its way, in full faith and conviction, aspiring for the welfare of our country and people as well as peace for our region and the world, receiving the new year with confidence and hope.

Have a new happy year, and may peace and blessings of Allah be upon you.

Mohammad Hosni Mubarak is President of Egypt. This is a New Year’s speech as provided by the Egypt State Information Service.