U.S.: Peace With Israel Essential to Future of Egyptian People

Over half of the Egpytian public want to scrap the existing peace deal with Israel, according to a new survey; the poll measured attitudes in Egypt three months after the start of the uprising in Cairo.

Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya
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Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya

Over half of the Egpytian public want to scrap the existing peace deal with Israel, according to a new survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The poll measured attitudes in Egypt three months after the start of the uprising in Cairo.

The U.S. State Department said in response to the survey that "the Egyptian army has pledged to uphold international agreements forged by Egypt, including the 1979 peace agreement with Israel."

Anwar Sadat, left, Jimmy Carter, center, and Menachem Begin on the White House lawn, after signing the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in 1979. Credit: Archive

The State Deparment stressed that It's clear that peace is essential for the future of the Egyptian people, including peace with the Israelis, the Palestinians and all peoples in the region. The Camp David accord is a cornerstone of peace and stability in the region. President Sadat sacrificed his life for this goal; his vision and courage were critical in the obtainment of peace."

The survey said that 54 percent of Egyptians supported the annulment of the peace agreement with Jerusalem, and that just 36 percent wanted to maintain the peace agreement with Israel.

The annulment figure rose to six out of ten Egyptians when people in lower income brackets were asked. Further, 59 percent of respondents in lower educational brackets also supported negating the agreement. Among wealthy and well-educated Egyptians, the figures for those in favor of annulling peace relations with Israel are 45 percent and 40 percent.

The survey seems to support the views of pessimistic commentators, who predicted that the democratization processes in Arab states would not necessarily lead to sympathetic attitudes toward Israel and the U.S.

Egypt's public has not been disappointed by the uprising, which saw President Hosni Mubarak step down in February 2011 - 77 percent of poll respondents are happy that Mubarak stepped down, compared to 13 percent who regret his departure, and nine percent who claimed to have no opinion on the issue. A majority of Egyptians attest to being optimistic about their country's future.

Among poll respondents, 71 percent say that democracy is to be preferred over all other forms of government (the figure last year was 60 percent ), and 62 percent want parliamentary and presidential elections to be held as soon as possible.

Regarding the United States, only 22 percent of Egyptians think that the US played a positive role in the uprising, in contrast to 39 percent who think that the Americans exerted a negative influence; 35 percent think that the US had no influence.

President Barack Obama, it turns out, has an image problem in the Middle East and not just in Israel: Almost two-thirds of Egyptians (64 percent ) report that they do not trust Obama's global policy. Further, 52 percent of respondents did not like President Obama's responses to changes in the Middle East. Less than half (45 percent ) of Egyptians are happy with the U.S. President's performance in the region.

Four out of ten Egyptians want to maintain close relations with the U.S., yet a similar number want their country to move away from the Americans. Only 15 percent of Egyptians want to strengthen relations between their country and the U.S. in years ahead. The poll, which was conducted face-to-face, revealed a detailed wish list harbored by most Egyptians: 82 percent want economic improvement in the country, 79 percent seek a fair judicial system, and six percent believe that law and order needs to be restored to the country.

When economic considerations are lined up against political ones, 49 percent of Egyptians believe that economic improvement should have priority, whereas 47 percent give precedence to democratization.



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