ElBaradei: U.S., Egypt in secret talks on fate of Israel peace treaty
Remark by top Egyptian opposition leader and former IAEA chief comes following significant gains by Islamist parties in country's recent parliamentary vote.
The United States is engaged in secret talks with Egypt's ruling military council geared at ensuring that the country's democratically elected regime will maintain its peace treaty with Israel, top Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei said on Tuesday.
Results from Egypt's recent parliamentary vote, which saw considerable gains for Islamist factions such as the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party and the radical Salafi movement's Al-Nour Party, have caused some to question the future of Israel's 1979 peace treaty with its neighbor to the north.
In an apparent attempt to assuage some of these concerns, Al-Nour officials indicated last week that the Salafi movement intended to respect all treaties that Egypt has signed, including the peace deal with Israel.
Al-Nour, which won 25-30 percent of the votes in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, also said that they are in favor of negotiating with Israel.
Meanwhile, a senior diplomatic official in Jerusalem said Sunday that Israel's new ambassador in Cairo, Yaakov Amitai, will attempt to open communication channels with Islamic officials in Egypt, including representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and the radical Salafi movement's Al-Nour Party.
Speaking to the Iranian semi-official Fars news agency on Tuesday, Elbaradiei, the former International Atomic Energy Agency head, indicated that the future of Israel's peace treaty with Egypt was at the center of a recent and secret round of talks between U.S. officials and members of the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
"The negotiations were completely secret and confidential," ElBaradei told Fars, adding that what the ruling military indicated "said was that the talks were about bilateral and mutual relations, but I believe that Americans wanted to ensure that the deals signed between Egypt and Israel will remain intact if Islamists ascend to power."
Speaking to Egyptian media on the subject last week, new Israeli envoy to Egypt Yaakov Amitai was asked if he was concerned about the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.
He replied that he did not wish to get involved in Egypt's internal affairs and needed to study the situation further.
Until now, the Israeli government has not attempted to open official contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Jerusalem official's comments are unusual in light of the Brotherhood's failure to recognize Israel.
However, representatives of the Islamic movement have told American diplomats that the group did not intend to seek the revocation of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.