'Peace Treaty With Israel Is Up to the Egyptian People'

Spokesman for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood responds to U.S. National Intelligence director, who said he assumed Brotherhood was not in favor of maintaining peace treaty with Israel.

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The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's best-organized political force, said on Friday any decision on the country's peace treaty with Israel was up to the Egyptian people and it would not impose its view on them.

"The decision on the treaty does not belong to the Brotherhood, it belongs to the entire Egyptian people," said Essam al-Erian, a spokesman for the Islamist group, in an interview with Al Arabiya television.

The top U.S. intelligence official said this week the Brotherhood probably did not favor the Camp David treaty -- the 1979 accord that made Egypt the first Arab state to make peace with Israel and restored the Sinai to Egyptian control.

"The important thing is the position of the Egyptian people and not the Brotherhood," Erian said. "The Brotherhood will not impose their vision on the Egyptian people. The Brotherhood are part of society that accepts what the Egyptians accept and nobody can wipe out a treaty with a pen," he added.

Speaking about the Brotherhood during a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said: "I would assess that they are not in favor of the treaty".

Erian did not set out the Brotherhood's position on the accords, signed on behalf of Egypt by President Anwar Sadat in 1979. Peace with Israel was a defining feature of the era of President Hosni Mubarak, toppled last week by a popular uprising.

Egypt's military, which has closed defenses ties to the United States, is currently running the country. It has said it remains committed to Egypt's international and regional treaties.

Erian also said the Brotherhood supported the opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, opened only sporadically for people to cross by the Egyptian authorities.

Egypt opposed the idea of opening the crossing for the passage of goods, arguing it would push Gaza ever more into Egypt's orbit and relieve Israel of its responsibilities as occupying power.

The Brotherhood was one of the vocal critics of Egypt's cooperation with Israel in blockading the Gaza Strip, which is governed by the Hamas Islamist group. Hamas shares the ideology of the Brotherhood.

Erian said: "I think that the injustice imposed on the people of Gaza must be lifted, the crossing must be opened, and Egypt must not take part in killing and starving an entire people under siege."

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood's guidance council in Cario, Nov. 22, 2010Credit: AP



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