Brotherhood Steps Back from Israel Treaty Threats

December 12, 2011  

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said Monday it will not “act unilaterally” when reviewing the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

The Brotherhood, set to control Egypt’s parliament following the current election cycle, ignited a political firestorm when it said it would reconsider peace with Israel.

“A decision on such a national issue will be taken jointly by parliament, the president of the country and the government,” Essam Al Arian told Gulf News.

Al Arain’s remarks came days after media reports that the Muslim Brotherhood was in contact with U.S. officials seeking to safeguard the agreement signed in 1979 by Egypt and Israel.

“We have no contacts with anyone about reaching understandings on this treaty,” Al Arian said.

“A general rule is that treaties are subjected to re-evaluation after the passage of time to see how they serve national interests and to assess how the signatories honor their obligations,” he added.

In August, Egyptian-Israeli relations suffered their worst crisis since the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on April 11 when IDF forces inadvertently killed five Egyptian soldiers while pursuing several Sinai terrorists who killed seven Israeli civilians and one IDF soldier in a cross-border raid.

In September, angry Egyptians stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo – ostensibly to protest the incident.

Israeli officials have recently expressed worries over the lead taken by the Islamists – who have been tapping into anti-Israeli sentiments to win votes – in the early round of Egypt’s parliamentary polls.

Regional analysts, however, say the Brotherhood’s decision to “review” the treaty may be more about pandering to the crowd than actually shaking up geopolitical realities.

With Egypt’s economy in a downward spiral – and billions in U.S. military and economic aid riding on the 1979 treaty – the Brotherhood can’t afford to be perceived as making things worse.

“Reviewing the treaty is not a top priority on our agenda,” Al Arian admitted. “We have other more persistent priorities such as providing jobs to Egyptians and improving their living conditions.”

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