Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood: Fate of Israel Peace Treaty May Be Decided in Referendum

Deputy chief of Egypt's largest party says the 'people must have their say,' rejects possibility that Muslim Brotherhood will recognize Israel.

Jack Khoury
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The Muslim Brotherhood movement may bring the fate of Egypt's peace treaty to a referendum, the Islamist factions said on Sunday, adding that there wasn't any chance that the movement will recognize Israel.

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 south.

Supporters of The Freedom and Justice Party of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood participating in a march in support of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh's visit, Cairo December 26, 2011.Credit: Reuters

Addressing this issue on Sunday, the deputy chief of the Muslim Brotherhood Rashad al-Bayoumi told London's Al-Hayat newspaper that Egypt may choose to revise its peace treaty with Israel, hinting at the possibility that the pact's future could be determined through a referendum.

Al-Bayoumi emphasized that the Islamist movement would respect all of the international agreements to which Egypt is signatory, adding, however, that each side had the right to review the peace deal, and that the Egyptian people have yet to speak their mind.

"We weren't party to the peace treaty, it was signed away from the Egyptian people and thus the people must have its say," the Muslim Brotherhood official said.

Referring to the issue of recognizing Israel, al-Bayoumi said that the Muslim Brotherhood was not required to recognize Egypt's neighbor to the north, saying that Israel was an "occupying entity and we will not allow anyone of our members to meet with an Israeli."

"I won't allow myself to meet with a criminal and there's no chance that we'll cooperate with Israel," the Egyptian official said.

Last week, the Iranian semi-official Fars news agency quoted top Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei as saying 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.

Read this article in Hebrew