Arab League Secretary General and potential Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa implied that he would maintain peace ties with Israel if elected to office, but that he might renegotiate the terms of Egyptian natural gas sales to Israel, according to Israel Radio.
The veteran diplomat said in Cairo that Egyptians would be fooling themselves if they believed that the economy of the country could be restructured and that venturesome diplomatic initiatives could be undertaken at the same time.
Arab League secretary-general for the last decade, Moussa, 74, is the most prominent figure yet to declare his candidacy for the position from which Hosni Mubarak was toppled on February 11 after three decades in power.
The military, which took power after Mubarak was ousted, plans to hold a parliamentary vote in June to be followed by a presidential election six weeks later. In a country where years of oppression have crushed political life, Moussa's high profile, oratory skills and charisma have given him a natural head start.
An online poll on the Web site of al-Ahram newspaper on Thursday showed him with a big lead over Mohammed ElBaradei, the Nobel prize-winning former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
He was Egypt's foreign minister for 10 years until 2001, when he took up his current position with the Arab League. His popularity was widely assumed to be the reason Mubarak replaced him. To some, the final straw for Mubarak seemed to be the release of the 2001 Egyptian pop hit, "I hate Israel, I love Amr Moussa".
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now