Egypt presidential debate: Israel is enemy

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 17, 2012

Both leading candidates in Egypt’s presidential elections, scheduled to take place next week, have said that they will “review” the Camp David peace accords with Israel if elected.

In the first-ever televised presidential debate last week, independent Islamist Abdel Moneim Abul-Futouh called Israel a “strategic enemy”, citing its nuclear arsenal and treatment of the Palestinians. He said Israel will remain an enemy even following the future creation of a Palestinian state.

Amr Moussa, the former foreign minister and secretary-general of the Arab League, referred to Israel as an “adversary”.

Thirteen candidates are running in the elections, which will take place on May 23, with a run-off between the two leading candidates scheduled for June 16 if no candidate receives over 50 per cent of the votes.

The main thrust of Mr Abul-Futouh’s attacks on Mr Moussa was that he had been a minister of deposed president Hosni Mubarak’s regime and had been silent over crimes committed against the Egyptian people. Therefore he was unworthy of serving as president.

Mr Moussa accused Mr Abul-Futouh — until recently a member of the Muslim Brotherhood before breaking with the movement to run for the presidency — of still adhering to the principles of the Islamist parties, and not looking out for the interests of all Egyptians.

Mr Moussa is currently leading in the polls, with Mr Abul-Futouh a distant second. Polling, however, is unreliable and tends to under-represent the Islamist vote.

Absent from the debate was Mohammed Mursi, also regarded as a potential front-runner in the race. Mr Mursi is the official candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood and was the chairman of its Freedom and Justice Party.
Mr Mursi is generally thought of as a lacklustre and uncharismatic contender who, at the last moment, stood in when the party’s preferred candidate was disqualified. However, he is supported by the Brotherhood, which surprised everyone last year by winning 47 per cent of the seats in the parliamentary elections.

Last updated: 4:32pm, May 17 2012