Lieberman: If Egypt's Morsi Is Serious About Peace With Israel, He Should Visit

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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday that if Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi is serious about peace with Israel he should visit the country. 

"We hope that whoever speaks about peace and about stability understands that there can be no hypothetical peace," said Lieberman. "We hope that Morsi will meet with officials in Israel, that he will be interviewed by Israeli media and that he will visit Jerusalem," he added.

The foreign minister's remarks came in the wake of an interview the Egyptian president gave to Reuters on Monday, in which he said he would pursue a "balanced" foreign policy and said that the 1979 peace treaty with Israel would be upheld.

In the interview, Morsi told Reuters, "International relations between all states are open and the basis for all relations is balance. We are not against anyone but we are for achieving our interests."

Without mentioning Israel by name, Morsi indicated Egypt's neighbor had nothing to fear from a new military campaign in the Sinai Peninsula, which he ordered after gunmen attacked an Egyptian border post, killed 16 guards and tried to burst across the frontier into Israel.

"Egypt is practicing its very normal role on its soil and does not threaten anyone and there should not be any kind of international or regional concerns at all from the presence of Egyptian security forces," he said, referring to the extra police, army and other forces moved to the area.

The military campaign was in "full respect to international treaties", he said. The Egypt-Israel peace deal includes limits on Egyptian military deployment in Sinai.

Morsi, 61, came to power after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, who served for decades as a loyal U.S. ally and the guarantor of Egypt's status as the first Arab country to make peace with Israel.

In June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres both sent missives to Egypt's new president, congratulating him on winning the Egyptian election. Morsi responded to Peres with a letter, dated July 15, in which he thanked him, and said that he looked forward to getting the Middle East peace process back on track. The spokesman for the Egyptian president later denied that he had sent the letter, however.

Since his victory, Morsi and his aides have stressed to U.S. and European officials that they intend to respect all international treaties which Egypt has signed, including the peace treaty with Israel.

Avigdor Lieberman speaking during a meeting of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, July 9, 2012.Credit: Michal Fattal