Muslim Brotherhood could rethink Israel-Egypt treaty

By Jennifer Lipman, February 9, 2011
President Hosni Mubarak

President Hosni Mubarak

If the Muslim Brotherhood takes power in Egypt, its first move could be to review the peace process with Israel.

Banned under President Hosni Mubarak, the Islamist group is understood to have the support of just a quarter of Egyptian voters, but is well-organised and has been vocal since anti-government protests erupted more than two weeks ago.

Mr Mubarak has promised to hold free elections in Egypt. If these go ahead, the Muslim Brotherhood are likely to field candidates.

A senior Brotherhood official told The Times: “The position [on Israel] will be decided by the people according to the free choice of parliament.”

Essam el-Erian also called for “a comprehensive peace and the building of a Palestinian state”. But he suggested that this could mean the abandonment of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty, which made Egypt the first Arab country to recognise the Jewish state.

Another high-ranking member of the organisation also said the Muslim Brotherhoof continued to reject the treaty, which was signed under the presidency of Anwar Sadat in 1979. Mr Sadat was assassinated by Islamist extremists at a military parade two years later.

Under Mr Mubarak, Egypt and Israel have enjoyed a relatively strong relationship, with co-operation in recent years on extremist groups operating on the Gaza border.

But Mr Mubarak’s stance on Israel has been a target for some of the protesters, and the uprising has called into question future ties between the neighbours.

Earlier this week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that peace treaties were not necessarily permanent. He said the Camp David Accords could “be unravelled from without [or from] within.”

Last updated: 11:14am, February 10 2011