How will Egypt’s new regime affect Israeli-Egyptian relations?

Last week I raised a big question mark over the possibility that Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohammed Mursi, may decide to force Israel’s hand in its dealings with the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear threat. How should Israel respond in such an eventuality, without endangering the fragile peace with Egypt on the one hand, while ensuring its safety on the other hand?

 Dr. Dori Gold is Israel’s former ambassador to the UN. He writes a weekly column in the weekend edition of the “Yisrael Hayom” (Israel Today) newspaper. In last week’s column he addressed this exact question. I’ve translated it and posted it here.

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Mohammed Mursi. Photo: Wikipedia

Mursi and the Future of the Peace Treaty/ Dr. Dori Gold

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Dr. Dori Gold. Photo: Wikipedia

When the elected Egyptian President, Dr. Mohammed Mursi, presented his views on the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty last year, it was clear that he was torn between two opposing sides. On the one hand, when he was speaking for western ears, he spoke of Egypt’s need to honor the agreements it had signed.

 On the other hand, a few months prior, Mursi declared that there is need to reexamine the 1978 Camp-David agreement, which served as the basis for the peace treaty, and proposed reexamining all sections of the agreement in order to decide whether or not the agreement should be cancelled.

 The general teacher of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badii’, who is expected to become a central player behind the scenes of Mursi’s new government, called on the Egyptian parliament to conduct such a reexamination. In his weekly communiqué, two years ago, Badii’ called for renewing the resistance [against Israel-W.o.Il].

 Mursi’s double-speak regarding the peace treaty became even more pronounced when he gave an interview last month to the Egyptian television network “ONtv”. In that interview he proclaimed again: “We will honor the agreement- we must”. But immediately afterwards he added: “But we must address the details. Both sides must honor the agreement”.

 Mursi explained that there are two agreements, one agreement between Israel and Egypt and another agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. He hinted that in his views,Israel is not respecting its commitments towards the Palestinians, and therefore,Egypt is no longer obligated to keep its agreement with Israel.

 In effect, Mursi’s use of the above legal claim is an attempt to reopen one of the issues that was already brought up and settled during the negotiations between Israel and Egypt thirty years ago. In other words, is there a connection between the bilateral agreement with Egypt and Israel’s relations with other Arab elements, especially the Palestinians?

 In the peace treaty there is no room for doubt: There is no connection whatsoever between the two. It is plainly stated in paragraph 2, article VI: “The Parties undertake to fulfill in good faith their obligations under this Treaty, without regard to action or inaction of any other party and independently of any instrument external to this Treaty.”

How must Israel react in the event that the new Egyptian government should claim that the status of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty is connected to the talks with the Palestinians? Washington would be the most important player in this regard. One may recall that there is an Israeli-American memorandum, which says that Washington undertakes to use “the appropriate means in order to forward a full observance of the peace treaty”.

Mursi and his new government will have to find the balance between their hard-line ideology towards Israel and the restrictions which will be imposed on them by the international community, especially the United States. It has already been said that Mursi’s need to feed tens of millions of hungry Egyptians daily, will most likely moderate the Egyptian regime’s behavior.Israel must act in order to create an international consensus against these attempts at eroding what used to be the cornerstone of Middle-Eastern peace and one of the pillars of regional stability.

Have any questions or comments about this post? Please feel free to leave a comment!

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