Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, used his first international appearance to severely criticise Israel without mentioning it by name. Mr Morsi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, said in his speech last week to the UN General Assembly that the first issue that the international community must solve is “the Palestinian cause”.
He said that it was “shameful that the free world would accept that a party in the international community would continue to deny the rights of a nation that seeks independence”, but despite calling for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, he did not say that there should also be an Israeli state.
Mr Morsi and his party have said in recent months that they are not in favour of cancelling the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt but that they were seeking changes in the treaty. In an interview with the New York Times prior to his visit to New York, Mr Morsi said that Egypt would insist that the section of the treaty regarding Palestinian rights would be implemented.
In a further affront to Israel and the West, Mr Morsi expressed support for the Sudanese regime of Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted for arrest by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.
While Egypt remains a rival to Iran for regional leadership, he implicitly supported Iran by saying that “all countries have a right to nuclear energy”. He also urged all countries in the Middle East to relinquish nuclear arms, a veiled reference to Israel. It should be noted, however, that his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, also regularly called for regional nuclear disarmament, including that of Israel.Despite expectations, Barack Obama did not meet Mr Morsi, nor did he meet any of the heads of state visiting for the General Assembly.