U.S. Expects Egypt to Keep Peace With Israel Regardless of Who Is in Power

The Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel were signed by former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and have remained in place under Mubarak, who is widely viewed as a source of stability in the region.

The United States expects the Egyptian government to honor previous peace agreements with Israel regardless of who is in power, the White House said on Friday.

"Our expectation would be that whatever the next government of Egypt is, that they would adhere to a treaty signed by the government of Egypt," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Egypt Israel peace

Gibbs was referring to the 1978 Camp David Accords, which were brokered by the U.S. and set the stage for the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, which is in force to this day.

The political turmoil in Egypt and the possible ouster of President Hosni Mubarak has led to widespread concern– particularly in Israel - that a new government in Cairo will not be as friendly towards Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced fears last week that Egypt may follow in the extremist footsteps of Iran. 

"Our real fear is of a situation that could develop ... and which has already developed in several countries including Iran itself -- repressive regimes of radical Islam," said Netanyahu.

Netanyahu continued, adding that although the protests may not be motivated by religious extremism, "in a situation of chaos, an organized Islamist body can seize control of a country. It happened in Iran. It happened in other instances".

The Camp David Accords were signed by former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and have remained in place under Mubarak, who is widely viewed as a source of stability in the region.

"The treaty is not with a particular president," Gibbs said. "It is with the government, the country and the people of Egypt."

Israel has been particularly concerned about a potential rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in a post-Mubarak era. The Islamist group, officially banned under Mubarak, has traditionally opposed any peace agreements with Israel but more recently has alluded to a more lenient position vis-à-vis the Camp David Accords.

President Barack Obama said Friday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must presently prepare for his transition from power with input from all political parties, in accordance with the desires of the Egyptian people.

Obama did not insist that Mubarak step down immediately, but he talked about a transition period that should begin right away. "The future of Egypt will be determined by its people. The transition process must begin now," Obama said after meeting at the White House with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The last eleven days have seen millions of Egyptians take to the streets in massive anti-government protests. Demonstrators are calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who has served as the president of Egypt for over 29 years.

The protestors were first met with violence by Egyptian police, and then by pro-Mubarak supporters, while the army has largely stood by, unwilling to enforce the government-imposed curfew, but refusing to intervene to prevent attacks on protesters.